New Mexico education officials pursue school retention plan
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico education officials are proceeding with a proposal that would require public schools to administer improvement and intervention plans and in some cases hold back students who have literacy skills below grade level.
Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski is proposing the new rules that would apply to students in kindergarten through third grade.
Under the measure, schools would be required to hold back students who are struggling with reading proficiency based on a state assessment.
The proposal would allow exemptions in certain circumstances. Parents could also sign a waiver to allow the student to move on to the next grade level, but retention would be mandatory if the student’s reading is still below proficiency at the end of the following year.
“It seeks to codify that which is already found in state statute — which already includes language requiring additional instruction for students who can’t read,” Ruszkowski told the Albuquerque Journal.
Members of the Legislative Education Study Committee voiced concerns about the proposal at a meeting Monday, saying it’s similar to legislation that lawmakers have previously rejected. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration and lawmakers have clashed over past school retention plans.
“It seems to be going around the will of the Legislature in a very deliberate manner,” Democratic Sen. William Soules said.
The lawmakers sent a letter to the Public Education Department, raising concerns about its authority. Department spokeswoman Lida Alikhani told the Santa Fe New Mexican that there were “a number of inaccurate, incomplete, intellectually inconsistent assertions” at the committee meeting.
“For many of the committee members, this is a political hit job and has nothing to do with best practices that are happening in the field as we speak, and it’s a misrepresentation of what current law states and what the most recent legislative efforts have attempted to do, as those that actually read the bills would know,” Alikhani said.