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November 12, 2019

NM students to take NM-MSSA assessment in grades 3-8, PSAT in grade 10

SANTA FE –New Mexico Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart announced today that the Public Education Department (PED) has signed a multi-year contract with Cognia TM to provide the mathematics and English language arts (ELA) assessment for grades 3-8. Cognia is a school improvement organization that offers assessment, accreditation and continuous improvement services. Additionally, students in grade 10 will be administered the PSAT assessment from College BoardTM.

With the PED’s contracts with College Board and Cognia in place, the following summative assessments will replace PARCC TM and the Transition Assessment for Math and English Language Arts (TAMELA) in spring 2020 and serve as NM’s official student assessments:

  • Students in grades 3-8 will participate in the New Mexico Measure of Student Success and Achievement (NM-MSSA) math and ELA assessment on the platform offered by Cognia.
  • Students in grade 10 will participate in the PSAT on the College Board platform.
  • Students in grade 11 will participate in the SAT with essay, both on the College Board platform.

Under the terms of these contracts, the PED may acquire additional elements to expand the statewide assessment system in future years.

“We believe this suite of assessments is more meaningful for students and less burdensome on classroom instructional time. These assessments will provide more meaningful data about how our students are performing academically and how instruction can be adjusted to meet the needs of all students,” said Secretary Stewart. “We are grateful to the public for the thoughtful input provided throughout the process of developing a new assessment system.”

The NM-MSSA assessment is fully aligned to state adopted NM Common Core State Standards. The cost per student for the NM-MSSA is $38.92, which is covered entirely by the state. The NM-MSSA will contain at least one writing prompt, constructed response items and other item types for each grade. The current estimated testing length for the NM-MSSA is 5.5 to 6 hours, which is approximately 3 hours shorter than PARCC.

The NM-MSSA item bank will be expanded over time to include custom developed writing prompts created by NM educators. By incorporating educator designed items into the NM-MSSA, educators will be able to ensure that the assessment remains culturally relevant to the backgrounds and experiences of NM’s students.

The platform offered by Cognia is already familiar to test coordinators, teachers and students throughout the state, as Cognia is the current vendor for the NM Assessment of Science Readiness (NM-ASR) and the Standards Based Assessment (SBA) Spanish Reading test.

Cognia’s data reporting offers improved reporting features and will better equip teachers with dynamic data views to inform instructional decisions. Parents will also be able to use the data reporting system to view individualized student reports.

Schools will also have the option to administer Cognia “testlets”. Testlets are miniature assessments which measure specific content standards, therefore providing educators, administrators and parents detailed data on where students are succeeding and where they need support.

In spring 2019, the PED held a series of community conversations across the state. Over 800 voices were heard during outreach sessions. A summary of the community conversations was provided to the Student Success Task Force, which developed recommendations that would build a more balanced assessment system. Among those recommendations were adopting an assessment that maintains alignment to state adopted standards and eliminating unnecessary testing time. The Student Success Task Force also recommended adopting a grade 11 assessment that has meaning beyond high school. With the adoption of NM-MSSA, PSAT and the SAT, the PED has moved away from PARCC to more meaningful assessments aligned with stakeholder feedback.

Contact: Robert Faris
Troops to Teachers Coordinator

Nov. 8, 2019

Troops to Teachers celebrates veterans teaching in NM

SANTA FE – To honor the service of New Mexico’s over 140,000 veterans, the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) is highlighting the work of military veterans who have transitioned into our state’s education workforce. On Monday, November 11th, New Mexico Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart will be personally contacting individuals participating in the state’s Troops to Teachers program (TTT), which provides professional coaching and financial support to current and former military members transitioning into the education workforce, to express gratitude for their service.

“We are proud to support transitioning service members as they prepare to enter the classroom,” said Secretary Stewart. “Leadership, organization, patience, courage – these are all skills cultivated through military service and skills needed in the classroom as well.”

A featured service member participating in NM’s TTT program is Cory Cass, who is preparing to teach middle school after leaving the Air Force.

“I chose to be a teacher as a second career because I had the opportunity to have a lot of great teachers that helped influence who I am today. I joined the Air Force after high school to help get the education and leadership skills that I wanted to bring to the classroom. In my 11 years in the Air Force, I have traveled the world, met political leaders and attended leadership courses. I’ve accomplished many goals that I set before I joined so that I could be the best teacher I can be in the classroom. Once I become a teacher, I hope that I can inspire children with the stories that I have collected in the Air Force to show them that they can accomplish any goal they dream of.”

-Cory Cass, SSgt, USAF

New Mexico is also home to many service members who have already completed their teacher certification and are now teaching in our schools. Keri Delucia is a veteran and teacher in the Alamogordo School District.

“After my time in the military, I discovered that the service aspect of a career was even more important to me. After pursuing my education, I went to rejoin the workforce. I was offered multiple jobs, but they lacked the meaning that I needed to find job satisfaction. I had little desire in the jobs related to my degree and soon realized I needed a career where I could continue to serve, as opposed to punching a clock day after day. As a teacher, I am able to fulfill this need to continue to serve my community on a local level. I think my military service and the skills I have learned in my military service have made me a better educator, especially as a kindergarten teacher – where being able to adapt and overcome, to be flexible, multitask, pay attention to detail and work well with others in a team are highly utilized in the classroom, as much as they were in my time as an aircraft mechanic.”

-Keri Delucia, Kindergarten teacher

NM began participating in TTT through a joint grant application with Colorado in 2018. NM and Colorado are now in the second year (2019-20) of the 5-year grant award. Since 2018, NM’s TTT program has grown to service over 170 active duty, veteran, retired and separated military personnel.

New Mexico utilized TTT grant funds to hire an education recruiter to provide career counseling and placement assistance for eligible members of the armed forces wishing to teach in New Mexico’s public schools. Grant money has also been used to provide eligible applicants with stipends of up to $5,000 to cover expenses incurred in obtaining the required educational level, certification or licensing to teach in a NM public school classroom.

NM’s TTT program is also working to address our state’s critical teacher shortage by encouraging veterans to pursue teaching opportunities in geographic areas with staffing shortages.

The TTT Colorado and New Mexico programs recognize the importance of relationships with teacher candidates, school district leadership, institutions of higher education and staff at the departments of education and TTT program office. These relationships have significantly increased the number of candidate contacts and mentorship to these candidates over the last year.

TTT was established in 1994 to assist transitioning service members and veterans in beginning new careers in public, charter and Bureau of Indian Affairs schools.

Contact: Alan Brauer
Director, Charter Schools Division

Eight New Mexico schools in four districts to undergo transformation through Indigenous Education Initiative

Grant funds to support 3-year school transformation program to meet needs of Native students

Santa Fe – New Mexico Public Education Department Deputy Secretary of Identity, Equity, and Transformation Kara Bobroff announced today that eight schools in four districts will receive a total of $800,000.00 in grant funds as part of the Indian Education Initiative.

Funded schools for the Indigenous Education Initiative are Cuba Elementary School, Cuba Middle School and Cuba High School in Cuba Independent School District ($250,000); Amy Biehl Community School and Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe Public Schools ($200,000); Santo Domingo Elementary and Middle Schools in Bernalillo Public Schools ($200,000); and Vista Grande High School in Taos Municipal Schools ($150,000).

“Cultural engagement is a vital part of education,” said Deputy Secretary Bobroff. “We want all students in New Mexico to be college and career prepared, and a key component of that is having a strong sense of self identity.”

The purpose of the Indigenous Education Initiative (IEI) is to combine innovation, flexibility, and technical assistance in order to meet community priorities for education, and to respond to the changing educational landscape and identified needs of Native students in New Mexico. Select schools in funded districts will participate in a three-year redesign program. Years one and two will focus on an internal review of school processes, community feedback, and the design of a school model based upon community-identified priorities. In year three, schools will re-launch based on their community-designed plan. This plan will prioritize academic excellence and cultural relevance in education, and contain new accountability measures as well as support structures for sustainability.

Cuba Independent School District (CISD) will use grant funds to increase communication and collaboration with Cuba’s local Navajo chapter. With the aid of the Indigenous Education Initiative grant, CISD will work to create an aligned and embedded curriculum that supports Native American students, while still meeting the needs of the entire student body. CISD’s overall goal for the IEI program is to further empower Native American students, therefore allowing them to find their self-worth and self-identity, which is crucial not only to academic success, but to their overall well-being.

Santa Fe Public Schools will be using grant funds to enrich current programs supporting Native American students. Amy Biehl Community School will work to further develop its collaboration with the Institute of American Indian Arts, which invites visiting artists and storytellers into classrooms. Santa Fe High School plans to develop its Project Venture program.

Bernalillo Public Schools (BPS) will be using grant funds to develop its “Toward Culturally Relevant Curriculum” program for Native American students at Santo Domingo Elementary and Middle Schools. This program will be developed in collaboration with Santo Domingo Pueblo. The purpose of the program is to provide a culturally relevant curriculum that is rooted and aligned with Pueblo core values, culture, and environment.

Vista Grande High School (VGHS) in Taos Municipal Schools will partner with Taos Pueblo to create an education model that is inclusive of the learning styles of Native students and of Native histories, perspectives, struggles, and successes. The overall goal of Vista Grande’s grant project is to create meaningful awareness of Taos Pueblo and its customs for both students and school staff at Vista Grande. All students in the Taos community will benefit from a greater understanding of the Indigenous history in Taos County, and the shared past that all of Taos shares. VGHS believes that increasing the number of students who have an understanding of the shared past of Taos County will lead to a more just society that values all people and instills cultural humility.

The Indigenous Education Initiative grant supports the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) in its efforts to address the needs of students identified as “at-risk” in the Yazzie Martinez Ruling. The PED is excited to provide this additional support to New Mexico’s Native community, and will continue to focus on serving the diverse needs of all New Mexico students.

The Request for Application for the Indian Education Initiative grant can be found here.

Nov. 1, 2019
Contact: Severo Martinez
Director of Literacy and the Humanities, New Mexico Public Education Department

 $40 million grant awarded to improve student literacy outcomes

Grant funds will support 5-year federal literacy plan

SANTA FE –The New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) has been awarded a $40 million federal grant to improve literacy outcomes for students in New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Thursday.

The Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grant from the U.S. Department of Education will be paid out over a five-year period.

“Research clearly demonstrates that a high-quality, literacy-rich environment beginning in a child’s early development is one of the most important factors in determining school readiness, high school graduation, college access and success, workforce readiness and civic engagement,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “Literacy skills are vital in supporting critical thinking as well as access to new innovation and technologies,” she said.

The new grant, in conjunction with the current Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant, will use targeted federal literacy funding for birth through grade 12 in three specific ways: (1) teacher professional development, (2) research-based interventions for struggling students, and (3) a generational approach that promotes family literacy.

The governor established A New Direction for New Mexico Schools outlined in her 11-point plan for improving the state’s educational system with a primary goal of addressing the large achievement gap in reading and math between New Mexico students and their peers nationally.

The plan includes initiatives to expand access to high-quality early care and education, and ensures equal opportunities to prepare every student for success. It also supports the PED in its efforts to address the needs of students identified as at-risk in the Yazzie Martinez court ruling.

Contact: Lynne Russo, (818) 903-6079,

Teaching the Teachers Earns Professional Learning Coach Lacy Rivera a $25,000 Milken Educator Award

New Mexico educator serves all students by amping up staff skills at Los Lunas High School

SANTA MONICA, Calif., (Oct. 22, 2019) Lacy Rivera is a teacher’s teacher. Literally. She lifts students at New Mexico’s Los Lunas High School indirectly, by helping educators teach more effectively and efficiently, with a common goal to improve school performance and raise student test scores. As the school’s professional learning coach, Rivera employs a creative, risk-taking approach as she mentors instructors and hones teachers’ skills with data-focused initiatives and a relentlessly upbeat manner.

Rivera’s innate positivity got a turbo boost this morning at a surprise school assembly where she was presented with a Milken Educator Award by CEO of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, Dr. Candice McQueen, together with New Mexico Secretary Designate of Education Ryan Stewart. An ebullient Rivera was named a 2019-20 recipient of the national recognition, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. She is the only Milken Educator Award winner from New Mexico this year, and is among up to 40 honorees for 2019-20.

The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching” has been opening minds and shaping futures for over 30 years. Research shows teacher quality is the driving in-school factor behind student growth and achievement. The initiative not only aims to reward great teachers, but to celebrate, elevate and activate those innovators in the classroom who are guiding America’s next generation of leaders. Milken Educators believe, “The future belongs to the educated.”

Rivera is brightening that future for Los Lunas learners by coaching-up her school’s teaching team in myriad ways. As a dedicated professional development advocate, Rivera leads teaching workshops, mentors new teachers, improves staff morale and promotes improved teacher-parent communication. She also assists pre-service teachers before they get to LLHS or other schools by serving as an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico.

“Lacy Rivera sees the big picture, and she knows how to coach and mentor her fellow teachers to foster whole-school collaboration that benefits students,” said McQueen. “Her results-oriented approach coupled with a heartfelt love of learning makes her a teacher’s teacher. We are proud to welcome her as a Milken Educator.”

“Lacy Rivera epitomizes the quality teachers we have in New Mexico,” said Stewart. “Her creativity, drive for excellence, and fierce commitment to her students are changing lives and inspiring our leaders of tomorrow. I look forward to working closely with Ms. Rivera to include her voice and her passion for students in the development of our strategies and programs to provide every New Mexico student with a world-class education.”

“Los Lunas Schools are incredibly blessed and honored to have such an amazing individual work with us on our quest to become the Premier School District in the State of New Mexico,” said Dana Sanders, Superintendent of Los Lunas Schools. “Ms. Rivera exemplifies the very essence of the word premier. She is creative, inspiring and gifted when it comes to the art of teaching. There are few people who could, in any way, stand up to Lacy’s level of commitment and undying passion for the teaching profession.”

About Milken Educator Lacy Rivera

As the professional learning coach at New Mexico’s Los Lunas High School (LLHS), Lacy Rivera impacts every classroom. She teaches the teachers through consultation, collaboration and coaching. Keeping a watchful eye on new educators, she tailors her support to their particular challenges. Rivera organizes learning walks, lunch-and-learn programs and instructional rounds to give all LLHS teachers the opportunity to observe and learn from each other. The district is working toward becoming a Professional Learning Community (PLC), and Rivera leads that effort at LLHS by helping departments develop essential standards, formative assessments, data evaluation methods and interventions for students who need additional support. The school is preparing for a 1:1 MacBook program, so Rivera has helped her colleagues incorporate Google Classroom, Clips and other applications into their lesson plans.

In her previous role chairing the English department, Rivera gladly explored, practiced, adopted and modeled new instructional methods. When New Mexico schools first introduced Khan Academy, Rivera piloted the program in her classroom and trained others. She is willing to take risks and try unusual practices if they help students learn. Positive and hopeful, Rivera motivates colleagues with unending optimism and a growth mindset, always grounding her suggestions in data and the latest research. Last year Rivera developed an intervention program for use by Algebra I teachers at LLHS; by year’s end, student scores rose 20% on PARCC math assessments. Thanks to Rivera’s support, LLHS saw a boost in teacher retention last year—not a single teacher left the school.

Rivera has served on the Guiding Coalition, a group focused on improving instruction at LLHS, and helped create its mission, vision, values and goals. She leads monthly workshops on topics like classroom management and parent-teacher conference preparation for the district’s New Teacher Support program. Rivera also works with other coaches in the district, serving as lead for the secondary PLC. New instructional coaches often shadow Rivera and count her as a mentor. As an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico, she helps pre-service teachers prepare for careers in education. Though Rivera no longer has a classroom at LLHS, students seek her out for college recommendations and job shadowing opportunities. Each year seniors who earn an academic letter can recognize an educator who has had an impact on their high school experience; Rivera’s name comes up again and again.

Rivera earned a bachelor’s in English in 2006 and a master’s in secondary education in 2008 from the University of Notre Dame. She is pursuing a doctorate at the University of New Mexico in language, literacy and sociocultural studies.

More information about Rivera, plus links to photos and a video from today’s assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website at

Milken Educators are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. In addition to the $25,000 prize and public recognition, the honor includes membership in the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,700 top teachers, principals, and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.

In addition to participation in the Milken Educator Network, 2019-20 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum in Indianapolis from March 26-28, 2020 where they will network with their new colleagues and exchange ideas with state and federal leaders on the future of education. In addition, the Milken Educator Awards’ “Why Not Us” program will pair each 2019-20 recipient with a veteran Milken Educator mentor to explore and prepare for expanded leadership roles that strengthen education practice and policy.

More than $140 million in funding, including $70 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.

The Awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators. Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Award is completely unique: Educators cannot apply for this recognition and do not even know they are under consideration. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then are reviewed by blue ribbon panels appointed by state departments of education. Those most exceptional are recommended for the Award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation.

The cash award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways; for instance, on their children’s or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even on the adoption of children.

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Everyone is encouraged to watch the tour at,, and

For more information, visit or call MFF at (310) 570-4772.

About the Milken Educator Awards

The very first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. The Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.

October 18, 2019

Mandi Torrez of Bernalillo Public Schools named 2020 New Mexico Teacher of the Year

New Mexico Public Education Secretary-Designate Ryan Stewart makes surprise announcement at Placitas Elementary in Placitas

BERNALILLO—New Mexico Public Education Secretary-Designate Ryan Stewart announced today the selection of Mandi Torrez from Bernalillo Public Schools as the 2020 New Mexico Teacher of the Year. The announcement was made during a visit to Placitas Elementary School, where Ms. Torrez teaches third grade. Secretary-Designate Stewart surprised Ms. Torrez in her classroom, where she was given the award before an audience of students, fellow teachers, district and school administrators and her family.

“Ms. Torrez represents the direction education is taking in New Mexico,” said Secretary-Designate Stewart. “She is an educator focused on cultural responsiveness, inclusivity and equity. We are all lucky to have a teacher like Ms. Torrez influencing our students, who are the future of New Mexico. I know that she will represent our state well on the national stage as New Mexico Teacher of the Year.”

As the 2020 New Mexico Teacher of the Year (NMTOY), Ms. Torrez will receive a one year paid sabbatical, generously sponsored by the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA), during her tenure from January 1 to December 31, 2020. This will be the first time ever that a full year’s paid sabbatical will be provided to the NMTOY. Ms. Torrez will also receive up to $10,000 worth of professional development opportunities. Additionally, Ms. Torrez will be invited to join the other state teachers of the year in various exciting opportunities around the country and will compete in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

“NMOGA is proud to support Ms. Torrez as the 2020 New Mexico Teacher of the Year and is appreciative of her efforts in the classroom,” said NMOGA Executive Director Ryan Flynn. “Students and teachers receive more than $1 billion each year from the oil and gas industry to support New Mexico schools, and NMOGA is excited for the opportunity to sponsor Ms. Torrez’s work throughout the next year.”

Ms. Torrez has been teaching for ten years, eight of which have been spent at Placitas Elementary School. Ms. Torrez is a member of the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics and the National Education Association. She has served on the Placitas Elementary Leadership Team since 2017, and was nominated for the Golden Apple Excellence in Teaching Award in 2017.

“We are very excited that Ms. Torrez has been selected as the New Mexico Teacher of the Year,” said Bernalillo Public Schools Superintendent Keith Cowan. “Her ability to connect with students and family through innovative and culturally responsive best practices earned her the recognition of Teacher of the Year for Bernalillo Public Schools for the 2019-2020 school year. Ms. Torrez is an exceptional teacher who will be a valuable resource for so many.“

Ms. Torrez’s first work with children was in college, while volunteering at an English as Second Language after-school program in a low-income housing community. Ms. Torrez’s volunteer service was her first look at the achievement gap and the support needed for minority students.

A central component of Ms. Torrez’s teaching is her focus on cultural diversity. Ms. Torrez has worked to highlight cultural awareness at Placitas Elementary by organizing annual celebrations for National Hispanic Heritage Month, Native American Heritage Month and National Black History Month. For National Hispanic Heritage Month, Ms. Torrez has organized family dinners and student art exhibitions, as well as flamenco, ballet folklorico and salsa dancing lessons for students and families. Ms. Torrez is currently pursuing a project to name the hallways in Placitas Elementary after prominent historical figures of color.

Prior to teaching, Ms. Torrez was a journalist for eight years. Ms. Torrez attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism. Ms. Torrez also attended Wheelock College in Boston, MA, where she received a Master of Science degree in Integrated Elementary Education and Special Education.

New Mexico’s Teacher of the Year process is based upon both classroom performance and strength of application. Districts and state charter schools were encouraged to nominate candidates for 2020 Teacher of the Year. The selection committee, consisting of education leaders from across the state, scored 16 Teacher of the Year applications. The top three highest scoring applicants were recommended to Secretary-Designate Stewart, who observed all three finalists in their classrooms before selecting Mandi Torrez as the 2020 NMTOY.

Now in its 56th year, the New Mexico Teacher of the Year Program began in 1963. Each year, all 89 New Mexico school districts and each state charter school is invited to nominate outstanding teachers to become New Mexico’s Teacher of the Year. The 2019 New Mexico Teacher of the Year, Jessica Sanders, is now a curriculum coach at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary in Rio Rancho. Prior to this, Ms. Sanders taught sixth and seventh grade science at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell. Ms. Sanders is involved in the broader education eco-system through her active involvement in coaching sports and her extracurricular involvement in student-led clubs. Ms. Sanders is also President Elect of the New Mexico Science Teachers Association.

For Immediate Release
October 2, 2019

New Autism Portal to Benefit Individuals, Families, Educators and Providers with 24/7 Accessible Online Resources

The New Mexico Public Education Department’s Special Education Bureau on Wednesday announced the launch of New Mexico’s first-ever Autism Portal, an interactive platform with trainings, archived e-courses and a variety of support resources for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The portal is a result of collaboration between the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED), the University of New Mexico Center for Development and Disability (UNM CDD), and the Developmental Disabilities Supports Division at the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH).

“The Autism Portal will support not just individuals diagnosed with autism but also families, community members, and educators,” said Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart.

Early feedback for the portal was provided by New Mexico families who wanted a single site where they could find the most relevant autism resources and services.

The portal was created under a contract with the DOH – with funds from the issuance of “Autism Awareness License Plates” authorized in 2015 by the state Legislature, pursuant to House Bill 103, Chapter 55, for the purpose of funding autism research, outreach, and education.

The portal highlights an Autism Resource Locator, which will help narrow down resources based on age and other factors, providing users with the most relevant information. The portal provides training to public school educators and covers topics that affect students in preschool through high school. Additionally, the portal offers blog posts on various ASD topics written by UNM CDD staff, providing a way for the community to comment and discuss important ASD topics. The first blog post is “How is Autism Diagnosed”.

You may access these resources at the following web sites:

If you require assistance with the Autism Portal for yourself or an individual with ASD, please contact the Autism Family and Provider Resource Team at 1-800-270-1861 or 505-272-1852.

For Immediate Release: Sept. 26, 2019

Three New Mexico Schools Receive National Blue Ribbon Recognition

Schools Recognized for Excellence with 2019 U.S. Blue Ribbon Awards

SANTA FE, NM – Three New Mexico schools have received one of the highest national honors for improving student outcomes and closing achievement gaps, New Mexico Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart, Ed. L.D., announced today. The U.S. Department of Education has given the National Blue Ribbon School award to Career Enrichment Center & Early College Academy in Albuquerque, Ladera Del Norte Elementary in Farmington, and Logan Elementary in Logan.

“On behalf of the Public Education Department and the State of New Mexico, I want to congratulate the students, faculty, staff and administration at all three of these incredible schools,” Secretary Stewart said. “We are proud to hold them up as exemplars of what all public education institutions should strive for and will continue to support the amazing work they do on a daily basis.”

Schools are recognized in two categories: Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools and Exemplary High Performing Schools. This year, Career Enrichment Center & Early College Academy and Logan Elementary were honored in the Exemplary High Performing Schools category. Ladera Elementary was honored in the Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools category.

“I am so very proud of our elementary students and staff,” said Logan Superintendent Dennis Roch. “I’m especially gratified that this award recognizes the strong history of achievement our school is known for.”

To qualify for the Blue Ribbon award, schools are required to demonstrate dramatic progress in student achievement growth or show overall academic excellence. After being nominated by NMPED, each school submits an application to the U.S. Department of Education for consideration and review. Schools recognized in the Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools category are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students. Schools recognized in the Exemplary High Performing Schools category are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.

Since 1982, the U.S. Department of Education has invited annual National Blue Ribbon School nominations from state education agencies and top education officials. A total of 420 schools nationwide may be nominated, with awards determined by the number of K-12 students and schools in each state or jurisdiction. Now in its 37th year, the national Blue Ribbon Schools program has bestowed recognition on more than 9,000 schools. Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education will celebrate all 2019 honorees at an awards ceremony on November 14th and 15th in Washington D.C.

Photographs and brief descriptions of the 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools are available at

News Release
For Immediate Release: September 19, 2019

In Support of New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship, New Mexico Public Education Department Sets FAFSA Completion Goal of 80%

SANTA FE, NM – Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart on Thursday announced a new Public Education Department initiative to increase the annual statewide FAFSA completion rate to 80%. This goal is designed to support Governor Lujan Grisham’s recently announced New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship.

The New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship is Governor Lujan Grisham’s bold vision for increasing college access for New Mexico’s students. This innovative plan to set the national standard for college affordability will change the life outcomes for tens of thousands of students, both now and well into the future. The New Mexico Public Education Department and New Mexico public schools will play a pivotal role in ensuring that the state utilizes every possible dollar to reach all of New Mexico’s aspiring college students.

The most impactful way K-12 schools can contribute to the financial sustainability of this program is to increase the FAFSA participation rate for high school students. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form that the federal government, states, colleges and other organizations use to award financial aid. Submitting it is a student’s key to accessing grants, scholarships, work-study programs and federal student loans. Currently, about 65% of New Mexico’s high school students complete the FAFSA. At this rate, thousands of our students are missing out on potential federal funds that would make college significantly more affordable.

“By coming together to increase our FAFSA completion rates, we are seeding the soil that will produce thousands more doctors, computer scientists, authors, architects, nurses, artists, and teachers across our state,” said Secretary Stewart. “For thousands of students, we will make possible a college experience that breaks a generational cycle of poverty. Together, we are delivering on the moonshot for our children.”


September 4, 2019

New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge Confirms 600+ Participants

(Albuquerque, NM) –Sixty-five New Mexico (NM) high schools have created student teams to imagine, design, and develop a technological solution for the 2019-20 New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge. These 600+ students capture a geographic diversity that reaches all corners of NM. Over 30 school districts are represented, both urban and rural, including Albuquerque, Belen, Capitan, Chama, Deming, Eunice, Farmington, Gadsden, Grady, Las Cruces, Los Lunas, Raton, Roswell, Santa Fe, San Jon, Silver City, and Gallup-McKinley.

The STEM Challenge structure is simple: over the course of the semester, these ten-person student teams will create a prototype/model that solves a real-world problem in response to the Challenge theme, Keeping the World Safer Using Technology. Partnered NM industry employers will evaluate the proposed solutions based on quality and demonstration of skills required for STEM careers in NM. The top teams will receive $5000 and present at the Statewide Showcase held December 7, 2019 at Los Lunas High School.

“We are thrilled to see schools participating from around the state, giving the STEM Challenge a diversity that is absolutely necessary to accomplish our mission of showing students that if they study hard in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, they can get great jobs right here in New Mexico,” said Secretary Bill McCamley from the NM Department of Workforce Solutions.

Teachers championing the teams will integrate the Challenge theme with the NM STEM Ready! Science Standards as a co-curricular learning tool for everyday classroom activities. These mentor teachers will also receive funds for materials, a stipend, and professional learning through the NM Public Education Department. Each participating student is eligible to receive an NMAA Varsity letter, the same award given to student athletes on a varsity sports team.

“Los Alamos National Laboratory is excited to support the STEM Challenge. The competition is a win-win that both encourages New Mexican students in STEM fields, and will help meet future workforce needs of the Laboratory and the state,” said LANL Director Thom Mason.

New Mexico State University has coordinated undergraduate mentors from its institution as well as Northern New Mexico College and the University of New Mexico to advise and support student teams.

“STEM education is so meaningful for our students, not only because it provides a high skill set, the ability to think critically and work collaboratively in teams, and engage in relevant work, but because of its bond with workforce and economic development,” said Deputy Secretary Gwen Perea Warniment from the NM Public Education Department. “I am thrilled by the numbers of schools and districts participating. Students and educators across New Mexico have answered the call for purposeful, engaging, and challenging learning that is called for by the Next Generation Science Standards.”

The 2019-20 NM Governor’s STEM Challenge is coordinated by the NM Department of Workforce Solutions, the NM Public Education Department, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Sponsoring companies partnered with the STEM Challenge include:


Decartes Labs


El Paso Electric


Freeport McMoRan


Meow Wolf


Pattern Energy



RS 21

Virgin Galactic

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Sandia National Laboratories


Air Force Research Labs


Media Contacts:

Stacy Johnston

Acting Public Information Officer

New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions

Cell: 505-250-3926

Anjeli C. Doty

Statewide STEM Showcase Coordinator

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Office: 505-665-3922

Connor Boyle

Public Relations Coordinator

New Mexico Public Education Department

Office: 505-827-6554

Contact: Nora Meyers Sackett
(505) 690-7313
Aug. 12, 2019

Gov. names education secretary

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday announced the new secretary of the New Mexico Public Education Department, Ryan Stewart.

Surrounded by the education agency’s deputy secretaries, a diverse cohort of deeply experienced New Mexico educators and administrators, Lujan Grisham touted Stewart’s work as an educator and reformer in California and Pennsylvania at a Capitol news conference.

“I’m thrilled to introduce Secretary Stewart to New Mexico,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “It’s no secret I have very high expectations for the Public Education Department; they are as high as can be, frankly, because I share New Mexicans’ sense of urgency about our schools, and it’s our responsibility to deliver the transformation our students and schools deserve. I believe Ryan is the man for this moment. I’m certain educators, superintendents, parents, legislators and stakeholders will be struck by his energy and vision, as I was, and I’m further certain New Mexico public school students will greatly benefit from the turnaround he will oversee. I’m eager for him to get started.”

Stewart, an educator with diverse classroom and leadership experience in public education and education reform, is executive director of the Partners in School Innovation mid-Atlantic region, based in Philadelphia. Partners in School Innovation is a leading national nonprofit dedicated to boosting educational opportunities and outcomes for low-income students of color. Stewart was previously executive director of the Office of School Improvement and Innovation at the School District of Philadelphia, the eighth-largest school district in the U.S., where he also served as special assistant to the superintendent, leading the district’s principal effectiveness efforts and identifying methods to increase the transparency, equity, and strategic alignment of the district’s school funding model

He also worked as lead mentor at the nonprofit New Teacher Center, advising new educators, particularly middle school math and science teachers, as well as principals and district personnel on professional development and data analysis. Stewart was an algebra and science teacher at Cesar Chavez Academy, part of the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto, Calif. Among various fellowships and professional activities, Stewart served on the board of the Council on African American Affairs, now the Ron Brown Scholar Community Service Foundation, a Washington-based think tank emphasizing system issues facing African American communities. Stewart earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University and his doctorate in education leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

“New Mexico right now is synonymous with opportunity,” said Stewart. “Already, I am awed by the collective sense of buy-in, by the excitement permeating the state’s public education ecosystem, everyone’s evident willingness to come together to solve the challenges we face. We’ll take on those challenges without fear. I’m humbled by the chance to do this work in this incredible state, and I look forward to meeting with the students, the top-flight educators, the dedicated unions and school administrators. Together, I know we will make the difference New Mexicans expect and deserve.”

News Release
For Immediate Release: August 6, 2019

New Mexico Public Education Department Seeks Teacher Mentors for Governor’s 2019-20 STEM Challenge and Showcase

SANTA FE, NM – As New Mexico schools are preparing for the 2019-20 academic year, the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) is reaching out to high school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) educators to encourage participation in the first-ever Governor’s STEM Challenge and Showcase.

Over the course of the 2019 summer break, the PED contacted principals and superintendents in all 89 school districts and charter school directors across the state to share information about this exciting opportunity for New Mexico’s students.

Schools wishing to register a student team for the Governor’s 2019-20 STEM Challenge and Showcase must do so before the August 30th deadline. Registration is available through the following link:

Teachers mentoring student teams will receive a stipend of $500. Mentor teachers will receive support in the form of a two-day weekend workshop in September about the STEM Showcase criteria and how to incorporate the required NM STEM Ready! Science Standards into their classroom work. Weekly online support for teacher mentors will also be available, in addition to reimbursement for materials. Through a partnership between New Mexico State University and Northern New Mexico College, technical mentors will be available for student teams.

Detailed information on the Challenge is available on the program page located on the NM PED’s Math and Science Bureau’s website and through the LANL Community Partnerships Office’s website:

“We want New Mexico’s students to be future leaders, problem solvers, and innovators,” said Gwen Warniment, PED Deputy Secretary of Teaching, Learning and Assessment. “Our state’s unique role in the STEM industry provides us an opportunity to set students on the right path early on towards career success in STEM fields. This is why it is essential that teachers involve their students in the Challenge.”

The Governor’s 2019-20 STEM Challenge and Showcase is the result of collaboration between the New Mexico Public Education Department, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The Challenge will recognize student achievement in STEM and help NM’s diverse student population recognize the potential that STEM jobs have to address local, state, and global challenges.

The Challenge calls for students in NM high school STEM classes to imagine, design, and develop a project model to address the following Challenge theme formulated by LANL: Keeping the World Safer Using Technology.

Project model plans/prototypes must be submitted to the Statewide STEM Showcase Coordinator, Anjeli Doty ( by 11:59 pm on Friday, November 22, 2019, in order to be considered for the Showcase.

A group of STEM industry representatives will select projects to invite to the Showcase on December 7, 2019 in Los Lunas, NM. Participating New Mexico STEM employers will judge submissions based on the quality of the work and the degree to which the project uses skills required by New Mexico STEM businesses. The employers will provide an award of $5,000 to the winning team ($500 per student). All student participants in the Challenge will receive an NMAA Varsity letter – the same award student athletes receive when they participate on a Varsity sports team.

Schools accepting the Challenge will utilize LANL’s theme as a co-curricular learning tool and case study in their STEM class curricula. Though all STEM classrooms may participate, schools will choose a team of up to ten students working with up to two mentor teachers to submit a proposed solution. Students will practice their collaborative problem solving and presentation skills while learning how to use science and engineering practices to construct project models to present information and evaluate solutions.

For Immediate Release: July 26, 2019

NMPED Announces Statewide Mathematics and English Language Arts Assessment Results

SANTA FE, NM – The New Mexico Standards Based Transition Assessment of Math and English Language Arts (TAMELA) was administered this past spring in response to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s January executive order directing the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) to begin transitioning away from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test.

The Spring 2019 Transition Assessment of Math and English Language Arts decreased time spent on testing for students by 30 percent while maintaining comparable results to last year’s assessment. Statewide English Language Arts proficiency rates increased in 2019, with nearly 33 percent of students demonstrating proficiency. Mathematics proficiencies have hovered around 20 percent since 2015. These results reinforce the governor’s call for a transformation of the education system in New Mexico. The NMPED is dedicated to providing the appropriate levels of support and resources to partner with districts and communities in this work. Spring academic achievement data can be found on the NMPED’s Accountability web page at:

assessment data 2019 compared to previous years

Stakeholder Feedback and Vision for the Future of Assessment in New Mexico

Over the past few months, the NMPED has held a series of community conversations across New Mexico to listen to stakeholders regarding the vision for the future assessment system. As a result, a Student Success Task Force was established to help identify priorities. The priorities include ensuring

  • culturally relevant, custom-developed assessments in grades 3–8 without increasing testing time and while maintaining comparability;
  • a college entrance exam for all students at grade 11;
  • a more balanced approached to measuring student learning that encourages the use of local classroom and district level assessments; and
  • assessment literacy for multiple stakeholders.

This fall, the NMPED and the Student Success Task Force will be submitting a full statewide multi-year assessment plan to the Governor’s Office.

As recommended by the taskforce, the Spring 2020 math and ELA assessment in grades 3–8 will use the same blueprint as Spring 2019, with the addition of custom-developed field test items. New Mexico will continue including additional locally-developed, high-quality items each year as the assessment continues its transformation. The NMPED applauds the efforts undertaken by educators and schools to maintain high-quality instruction aligned to our state adopted standards during the transition year.

The NMPED recognizes that proficiency in math and English Language Arts is a core function of public education and an inherent civil right. The Department looks forward to engaging with New Mexico communities over the next school year on the Profile of New Mexico Graduate Project, where local communities can begin to articulate what a diploma means to their community, above and beyond academic indicators and test scores.

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Page last updated April 19, 2022