Response To Nickole Aguilar Garcia’s Comments On LAPS Data And Achievement

Dear Editor, 

I am writing this in response to the article written recently in the Los Alamos Reporter about Nickole Aguilar Garcia who is running for LAPS Board in the Mountain School district. Although I appreciate her passion and willingness to potentially serve on the Board, her interpretation of LAPS test data is misleading and incorrect. I am concerned as a prospective Board member who would be responsible for informed decision making, that she did not research the issue carefully and made assumptions on the data- -concluding our district’s quality of education is deteriorating. As a LAPS former central office administrator, principal, and teacher in this district, I am very familiar with the data and assessments used and would like to provide some clarification. 

Although no assessment names were mentioned, I am guessing based on the time frames she gave, she is referring to the NMSBA which was given until 2014 and then the PARCC test which was given from 2015-2018. The results and scores from these tests are comparing “apples to oranges” . They are very different assessments. This was the period of time our data has been lowest along with the rest of the PARCC testing states. Our results, as a district, were still among the highest in New Mexico at that time from 2015-2018, even though they were lower than they had been with NMSBA. 

Here is a chart from Schooldigger, a company that evaluates school districts showing our performance over time since 2012 compared to other NM schools. 

Nationwide, schools moved from state standards to Common Core standards in 2012 which was an enormous curricular shift. At the beginning of the Common Core movement, all fifty states were part of a consortium of either SBAC or PARCC. There were approximately 26 states who participated in PARCC. All districts and schools dropped in achievement as measured by PARCC. Within five years that number of states using PARCC dropped to only 7 states because the test was so rigorous and performance was so low. 

My hope for Nickole is next time that she looks at data, she takes time to learn more about the context of the data and history behind it. She should ask seasoned teachers and administrators who may know about the tests before making such an insulting and invalid assumption about our district’s test performance. I have included the NMPED website for further information. 

Megan Elizabeth Lee