Glitch to blame for school's lower grade


The Academy for Technology and the Classics received good news earlier this month when the New Mexico Public Education Department said it had raised the school’s state grade for 2016-17 to an A from a B after confirming a data error had led to a miscalculation.

The difference — ultimately, just a fraction of a point in ATC’s final score — means the Santa Fe district-chartered school has logged its fifth straight A since the state implemented the school grading system in 2012-13.

According to the education department, Santa Fe Public Schools failed to submit some information to the state regarding ATC students’ participation in the rigorous Advanced Placement classes, as well as scores on end-of-year AP tests. That data improved the school’s score in a category measuring its success at preparing students for college and careers following graduation.

Principal Susan Lumley said the new state grade is “a symbol of the effort that goes into academic excellence here every day.”

The college-preparatory school, which serves nearly 400 students in grades 7-12, recently was ranked as the second-best high school in New Mexico by U.S. News and World Report. It is one of just a few schools in Santa Fe that has maintained A’s for the past five years. Last year, the school’s graduation rate was 84 percent, the highest of any Santa Fe district high school and higher than both the state and U.S. averages.

Rhonda Gardner, the school’s academic dean, said 42 of the college-preparatory school’s 43 graduates in the Class of 2017 enrolled in college in the fall.

The school’s drop to a B when the initial grades were released in August was a disappointment for ATC, which was just four-tenths of a point short of earning 75 out of 100 points possible on its state report card, the lowest score required for an A and the score it received this month after the new data were calculated.

Superintendent Veronica García said Friday that a technical error led to the miscalculation in ATC’s grade. “I’m glad it was corrected,” she said, “and ATC got the grade it deserves.”

ATC was the only school in the Santa Fe district to successfully appeal its state grade for 2017.

On Friday, the school’s administrators, teachers, staff and students celebrated the grade improvement and had a visit from state Public Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski, who lauded their efforts.

“I think it’s notable,” Gardner said of the higher grade. “It’s difficult to maintain an A.”

August Railey, a junior at the school, said the grade was “incredible” and a reflection of the work that students, staff members and teachers have put in over the years.

“It’s important,” she said, “because I feel like our teachers work really hard and our students work really hard. Most of our kids have more than two hours of homework every night.”



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