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New Mexico Vistas Paints an Incomplete Picture

The following Op-Ed was written by Kelsey McCaffrey, Principal-in-Residence at Albuquerque Collegiate Charter School.

Navigating the public education system is complex, and one of the most important decisions a parent can make is where they send their child to school. This decision may define many outcomes, including their student’s opportunity to learn to read. However, This choice is even more complicated when there’s an incomplete picture of school performance, or worse, missing data.

As Principal-in-Residence at Albuquerque Collegiate Charter School, I have become frustrated and disappointed with the inaccuracies of New Mexico Vistas. Not only is the information outdated, but it doesn’t paint the whole picture, especially when it comes to a school’s reading proficiency score. Administrators and teachers don’t make decisions with missing or inaccurate data so why should we expect parents to?

In New Mexico, K-2 students take a state mandated reading assessment, IStation’s Indicator of Progress Reading Assessment (ISIP), to measure each student’s progress towards reading proficiency. ISIP scores reflect the reading level of each student. New Mexico students take this computer-adaptive assessment at least three times a year–at the beginning, middle and end of each school year–and the scores track the student’s growth over time.

During the 2022-2023 school year, ABQ Collegiate Charter School had over 70 percent of our students reach proficiency in grades K-2, as demonstrated by students during their iStation assessments. We were able to achieve these results by implementing small-group targeted instruction, a data-driven curriculum, monthly progress monitoring, and hard work on behalf of our scholars, families, and dedicated teachers. Yet, this data is not reported or reflected anywhere in our school’s reading proficiency score on New Mexico Vistas.

The Reading Proficiency scores listed on New Mexico Vistas only reflect the progress of students in grades 3 through 11.  Prior to the introduction of New Mexico Vistas, school grades and proficiency scores included and reflected K-2 reading scores.  This changed in 2019, when New Mexico Vistas was launched, effectively removing key pieces of data and distorting the reading proficiency scores of New Mexico schools.

As a K-5 school, the reading proficiency of half of our students is not represented in the published New Mexico Vistas data. Parents look to New Mexico Vistas as a resource to make data-informed decisions. However, for parents of students in grades K-2, this tool is not useful during their decision-making regarding school choice and early literacy instruction for their young scholars.

With an ongoing literacy crisis in New Mexico, ensuring students are on track to read on grade level by third grade is urgent. New Mexico Vistas is advertised as a “portal providing comprehensive information to families for informed school choices.” It claims to be a resource that: “provides families with the opportunity to learn more about their local schools.” Instead, New Mexico Vistas provides families with a fractured picture and leaves them wondering if their child will receive high-quality early literacy instruction.