LAS CRUCES—High school teachers throughout New Mexico know in advance what general topics will appear on statewide tests that eventually will be given to their students.  The range of topic items are listed on what is known as the End-of-Course blueprint, which is developed by the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) for classroom teachers.  However, LCPS teachers and administrators recently have taken issue with the development of the history and social studies blueprint and with topics that are being considered for elimination from the document.  In response, district officials said a letter explaining their concerns has been sent to the state PED Secretary-Designate.

The Las Cruces Board of Education on Tuesday, Dec. 12, approved a letter to PED Secretary-Designate Christopher Ruszkowski, saying the blueprint should not have excluded important historical events and persons, such as Rosa Parks, deployment of the Atomic bomb, and William Jennings Bryan.

“The blueprints have a big impact on what teachers select when determining what to teach throughout the school year,” said Dr. Wendi Miller-Tomlinson, LCPS assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. “As an example, if you tell teachers there won’t be any questions on the state assessment that reference Rosa Parks, there’s a chance that information won’t be taught.  We want our students to know about the civil rights movement and the key individuals who were influential in that period of American history.  So, the blueprint should have her listed.”

Miller-Tomlinson said the blueprints sent to school districts have multiple strikethroughs of similar important content. LCPS wants the strikethroughs to be removed, as stated in the letter signed by Board President Maria Flores and Superintendent Dr. Greg Ewing.

“While we understand that the intent of these strikethroughs is to communicate that a portion of a standard will not be tested, the rhetorical effort of striking through non-tested standards is to downplay the significant of these topics in history and in classroom instruction,” the letter states.

How the strikethroughs came to be is also in question.  Superintendent Greg Ewing said local teachers were part of the process months ago, however, their input was not fully considered in the final document sent by PED.  He said LCPS teachers are now reluctant to participate in the EoC development based on a process “they have found confusing.” The timing of the revision to the EoC blueprints should also be refined, he added.

“Asking teachers to leave their classrooms to vet test items after (the school year) has started is untenable,” he states. “The revised blueprints need to be available to teachers by mid-August to ensure that assessment complements rather than comprises student education.”

The bottom line is that educators need to know “which portion of the state standards will be in an exam,” said Miller-Tomlinson. “The confusion won’t help our teachers which, in turn, won’t help our kids.”

Read the entire letter here.

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—For more information, contact Jo Galvan, chief communications officer, 575.527.5811, jgalvan@lcps.net