At the Rio Grande Foundation we continue to report on and discuss New Mexico’s worst-in-the-nation NAEP scores, all while massively increasing education spending. Sadly, the initial reaction in the Legislature and Public Education Department seems to be to reduce standards rather than making long-overdue changes to the education system.
For starters, there is legislation being drafted to eliminate Algebra II as a requirement and reduce the minimum number of class-unit credits needed for graduation. Currently New Mexico is among the 20 states that require Algebra II for graduation.
Replacing Algebra II with a course on real-world statistics isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but we certainly would question the reduction in overall class credits. Notably, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican, “The state Council of University Presidents has cautioned in recent years that a reduction in high school class requirements, including algebra, could adversely affect college readiness and increase the need for remedial studies.” Given the Gov.’s “free college” it would seem that this may be yet another effort to push high school education onto the backs of New Mexico’s colleges and universities.
And then there is the the PED’s recent decision to eliminate the need to pass a standardized test in order to graduate. Standardized tests are not perfect, but they provide a basic understanding of what students should be able to do upon graduation. Eliminating the test only further undermines the relevance of graduation rates which are easily inflated and reinforces the need for a high-quality national test like the NAEP.