PUBLIC EDUCATION DEPARTMENT NEWS
Senate Pro Tempore Mimi Stewart introduced legislation Thursday that would establish the Family Income Index, an innovative new strategy to attack concentrated poverty in New Mexico schools by directing additional funding to those schools with the greatest need.
The New Mexico Public Education Department first proposed a Family Income Index in December as a partnership with the Taxation and Revenue and Human Services departments to more precisely target resources to schools with large populations of economically disadvantaged students.
“I thought this was an innovative way to approach an age-old problem,” said Sen. Stewart, who is a retired educator. “Schools with large populations of low-income students need specific programs and services to support them, and those things cost money. The Family Income Index will target additional financial support to where it’s needed most.”
Research has shown that concentrated poverty complicates learning and teaching and creates and sustains disparities in academic outcomes. For example, in schools with large numbers of economically disadvantaged students, students are less likely to score well on tests, earn high grades, graduate from high school and succeed in college than their peers in socioeconomically diverse schools.
“This is an equity issue, pure and simple. We know these disparities exist, and we know of specific strategies that help equalize academic outcomes,” Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said. “Senator Stewart’s bill would target funding to help schools do what we know works.”
Per the legislation, Senate Bill 17, the Public Education Department would use data from the other two agencies to calculate the household income of every New Mexico public school student. The agency then would calculate for every school the percentage of students in five income categories ranging from above average to extremely low, resulting in a ranked list of schools with the highest populations of low-income students.
Schools would use the extra funding provided through the index for programs that have been shown to improve student outcomes. Funding could be used for school counselors and social workers; for family information and resource centers; for culturally and linguistically diverse classroom texts; for innovative professional learning opportunities for educators; for after-school enrichment programs; for robust community needs assessments; for academic interventions such as structured literacy and evidence-based math strategies; and for mentoring supports, to name a few.