By Gov. Lujan Grisham
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday ordered the state’s Public Education Department to immediately take the steps necessary to terminate New Mexico’s use of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers standardized test, commonly known as PARCC.Lujan Grisham, in an executive order, called on the department to immediately begin working with key stakeholders to identify and implement a more effective, more appropriate and less intrusive method for assessing school performance that is compliant with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.The development of this alternative approach, intended to deliver a sounder methodology for the rating and assessments of New Mexico schools, will include teachers, administrators, parents, students and recognized professionals and experts in the field of student assessments.“This is the first of many steps we will take to transform education in this state,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “High-stakes tests like PARCC do our schools a disservice, and we are about empowering our school system. Including those who will be most empowered by a better assessment in the process will help us build something better from the ground up, as opposed to a test mandated from on high.”In a second executive order, Lujan Grisham called for an end to using PARCC in teacher evaluations. Reaching out to stakeholders in a similar fashion, the department will, under the order, strive to achieve balance in its ratings and assessments by incorporating into its analysis a variety of proven means of measuring teacher efficacy and performance.The governor also announced that Lt. Gov. Howie Morales will take on the duties and responsibilities of Cabinet secretary at the Public Education Department until the administration identifies a full-time appointee to lead the agency.Morales began his career as a special education teacher and was an aggressive supporter of classroom issues in the state Senate. He holds a doctorate in education from New Mexico State University.“We have interviewed great candidates for the Public Education Department, but we’re not going to fill a vacancy just to fill it,” Lujan Grisham said. “In the meantime, the lieutenant governor has graciously agreed to lend his expertise and energy to this crucial department.”“This is a new day in New Mexico,” Lt. Gov. Morales said. “We are going to change the culture at the Public Education Department, so New Mexicans know the state is there in support of our educators and students, not as a police department.”The governor and lieutenant governor were joined in the Cabinet Room by educators Loyola Cortina of Valle Vista Elementary, Billie Helean of Maggie Cordova Elementary, Michelle Ortega of El Camino Real Academy and Roxanne Seagraves at the New Mexico School for the Arts.