Nov. 2012 Column

In many circles, November is themonth of giving thanks.  I am personally thankfulthe election is over.  The mudslingingand carrying on by our elected officials is not a proper example for ouryouth.  We are fortunate in Lea County tohave elected officials who have the same grass-roots beliefs as the rest of thecommunity.  Lea County officialsrepresent Hobbs Municipal Schools and the surrounding communities with prideand integrity.  I am thankful to haveState Sen. Gay Kernan, State Sen. Carroll Leavell, and State Rep. Don Brattonand newly elected State. Rep. David Gallegos represent us in Santa Fe
       Last week’s Thanksgiving break came at a time when students and staff alike needed a few days apart to regroup andfinish the semester with a full head of steam. Due to shifting state mandates, Hobbs Municipal School employees havebeen especially busy this year.
      There’s the New Mexico State Standards Based Assessment, for example. I am not a supporter of a state testbeing used as a measure for rating a school but it happens to be the currentmethod used to rank our schools. Dr. Suchint Sarangarm, our districtstatistician, and I had the honor of representing Hobbs Municipal Schools duringa recent Legislative Education Study Committee. We were given an opportunity to voice our opinions on the current A-F report card.  Dr. Sarangarm explained the method behindusing statistical data to rank schools and emphasized the use of data to determine a student’s knowledge and comprehension of the New Mexico standards. We explained to the committee how HMS is using the data to determine a student’s mastery of content and the process we will use to reteach and/or provide intervention tohelp students become successful. During the presentation, I talked about the recent instructional audits performed on 11 HMS schools that received a D or an F in the most recent ratings. I was fortunate to serve on two audit teams. The teams are comprised of three staff members who interview the principal, teachers, parents and students.  The audit team also evaluates 75 percent ofall teachers in the campus.  The team islooking for systemic issues, not concerns with individual teachers.  After compiling our data and reporting to the campus staff, I can honestly tell you the staff is working extremely hard, the students are learning and education is a primary focus. I am proud of our staffand students and respectfully disagree with the ratings of our schools. I encouraged each legislator to visit our schools and spend quality time in the classroom.  We are not failing! Hobbs should be proud of their schools.
     Even though I am proud of our schools, we must live with thecurrent rating system  - and that concerns me greatly.  We have made somemajor changes to our approach in the classroom. Teachers are understandably conscious of the state standards by which they and we are assessed.  The result is an education that has changed from “program driven” to “standards driven.”
    During this last week of November, I am particularly thankful for the effort that HMS staff has made to meet state standards while not sacrificing individual student attention. This transformation has caused teachers to work many hours outside of school as they spend time researching supplemental materials to use in the classroom and effective teaching techniques. We should all take a moment and thank the HMS staff for their dedicationand hard work to improve the quality of education to the children in Hobbs.

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