New Mexico relaxes testing for students on track to graduate in 2024

ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico is relaxing requirements for some high school students by eliminating the need to pass standardized tests as a way to demonstrate they're ready to graduate, the state Public Education Department said.

The announcement made this week applies to students on track to graduate in 2024. While the students still must take the tests, their scores won't serve as a measure of whether they're eligible to graduate, said Lynn Vasquez, who directs the Assessment and Learning Management System.

The decision wasn't made lightly and was based on guidance from the U.S. Department of Education to consider the high stakes of testing to gauge performance, state Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said.

“Given the impact of the pandemic, this decision will afford our schools time to focus on quality instruction and more meaningful, balanced assessment practices — both of which are necessary for acceleration," he wrote in a memo.

The students, who were freshman when the coronavirus pandemic began, are still required to pass their classes, Vasquez told the Albuquerque Journal.

Whitney Holland, president of the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico, welcomed the decision. She said she's hopeful it will lead to instruction that's not focused on teaching to a test.

Amanda Aragon, who directs the advocacy group NewMexicoKidsCAN, said she's worried the decision might hinder students' success in the future.

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This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: New Mexico relaxes testing for students on track to graduate in 2024