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ESSA Reviews Are In: New Mexico, Louisiana Rise to the Top; Michigan, Arizona Falter

The 74 Million – Blair Mann

“Most of the noise surrounding the Every Student Succeeds Act this week was focused on the highly anticipated rollout of the independent peer review project from the Collaborative for Student Success and Bellwether Education Partners. While many groups, advocates, and experts have weighed in on specific pieces or trends in the plans, the peer review project is one of the only efforts giving a full analysis of what’s been cooked up in each state plan. More on that below.”(more)

Communities come together to increase college-going from the ground up

The Hechinger Report – Jon Marcus

“ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In a nondescript one-story industrial building surrounded by a neighborhood of engine repair and body shops, rows of seamstresses lean into their industrial sewing machines and cut and stitch fabrics for West Elm, New York’s Canvas Home, and other retailers. This little factory, called Southwest Creations Collaborative, provides not only stable employment in a state where nearly a third of jobs pay at or below the poverty level. It’s also helping its workers’ children overcome the longer-than-average odds in Albuquerque that they will graduate from high school and go on to college. “We joke that the people who work here are simultaneously grateful and that they’re also thinking, ‘Wow, you guys are really in our business,’” said Jessica Aranda, director of the collaborative’s Hacia la Universidad, or “To the University,” program. “What other employer asks you to bring in your children’s grades?” The program offers mentoring and tutoring if those grades suggests it’s needed, takes families on tours of college campuses, and helps them navigate the application and financial aid process.”(more)

Governor praises state’s STEM initiative

The Albuquerque Journal – Mike Bush

“Addressing more than 400 educators from around the state Friday morning, Gov. Susana Martinez said New Mexico is increasing spending for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs in an ongoing drive to hire, support and retain STEM teachers in rural and low-income schools. The goal is to provide equal opportunities for all students, regardless of where they may live. One such program is a $5,000 stipend offered to teachers who agree to work in rural, out-of-the-way places where it’s difficult to attract science, math and other specialized teachers.”(more)

Common ground in education debate

The Albuquerque Journal – Winthrop Quigley

“The public has come to expect some ugly political rancor to accompany any discussion of the state’s education system. We are asked to believe the governor is a heartless political hack out to turn education over to the highest corporate bidder. We are told unionized teachers are so incompetent that their only goal is to avoid accountability and do as little teaching as possible. So it was gratifying and a little surprising to hear how much common ground is shared by the Democratic vice chairman and the Republican chairman of the state’s Legislative Education Study Committee. Sen. John Sapien, an insurance agent and a Democrat from Corrales, and Rep. Dennis Roch, a Republican who is superintendent of the Logan school district in Quay County, skipped lunch during LESC hearings Thursday in Santa Fe to do a joint interview with the Journal. They agree that teachers and school administrators need to be evaluated, that third-graders’ reading levels need to improve, that dropout rates are too high and graduation rates are too low, that rules governing charter schools need tweaking, and they agree on many of the implementation details that could improve schools.”(more)

Extreme education makeover: Are the aggressive reforms in New Mexico a model for other states?

The Deseret News – Rachel Monahan

“With two weeks to go before New Mexico was set to administer its new standardized tests, Angel Mendez’s seventh-grade math classes at Truman Middle School here were taking an official practice exam online. The new tests from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (or PARCC, for short) are the first to be associated with the new higher standards of the Common Core and, unlike the past state exams, are being given on computer and with a time limit. Despite concerns the technology would trip them up, the students appeared to navigate the computer-based test with ease — marking questions they wanted to come back to later, for example. It was the math that seemed to give them trouble. Their enthusiastic first-year teacher had used the Common Core standards to guide what he’d taught the students all year, but the content of the sample exam, which required dragging and dropping algebraic expressions into boxes and filling in blank boxes with equations, was proving challenging.”(more)

Guero Loco: Bringing The Beat To Bilingualism

NM State NPR – Simon Thompson

“A Michigan State University study says attending a bilingual school may improve reading and math test scores of native English speakers. Research also shows bilingual programs benefit those learning English as a second language. Despite the benefits the state education department says only 17% of all New Mexico students are in bilingual education and districts are doing what they can to get more students into the bilingual programs. With a cabbie hat, full face shades and a Latin style fade hair cut bilingual Spanish rapper Guero Loco looks more like the kind of guy you’d see hanging out the window of a low rider or MCing a Reggaeton show. But today he’s working the stage of the Deming High School auditorium to show kids the kinds of opportunities being bilingual can open up.”(more)