For Immediate Release
December 14, 2018
Two New Mexico Middle Schools Earn National Recognition
New Mexico Public Education Department names schools in Gadsden and Rio Rancho as Distinguished Schools
SANTA FE, NM – Santa Teresa Middle School and Rio Rancho Middle School have been named National ESEA Distinguished Schools by the New Mexico Public Education Department. These New Mexico schools are a part of just approximately 100 schools throughout the country being nationally recognized for exceptional student achievement in 2018.
Santa Teresa Middle School in the Gadsden Independent School District, a school that earned an “A” in the 2017-18 school year after earning a “B” school in the 2016-17 school year, is being recognized for closing the achievement gap amongst student groups. One-hundred percent of the students at “ST Middle” qualify for free breakfast and lunch through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program. Secretary Ruszkowski visited the school on the NM-True Straight-A Express earlier this fall, and also recognized several teachers that had earned Excellence in Teaching Awards. Gadsden Independent School District is one of the fastest-growing districts in the state in both reading and math.
Rio Rancho Middle School is also being recognized for exceptional student performance—earning an “A” school grade for the last three school years. Eighty-eight percent of the students at Rio Rancho Middle School qualify for free and reduced priced school meals. Dr. Sue Cleveland has served as the Superintendent of Rio Rancho Public Schools since its inception twenty-five years ago—since that time the district has made significant progress and has embraced best practices from across the state and the country—always reaching-out to learn from others.
“As a former middle school teacher who understands the importance of our students’ academic progress during those pivotal years, it brings me tremendous pride to see some of New Mexico’s middle schools on the rise and being recognized in this way,” said Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski. “My visit to Santa Teresa Middle School early this year was incredibly powerful—and we as educators have a responsibility to learn from and emulate schools like the high-performing campuses in Gadsden that are showing all of us what’s possible.”
The National ESEA Distinguished Schools Program publicly recognizes qualifying federally funded schools for the outstanding academic achievements of their students. It highlights the efforts of schools across the country making significant improvements for their students. The program has been in place since 1996, showcasing the success of hundreds of schools in one of three categories:
- Category 1: Exceptional student performance for two consecutive years
- Category 2: Closing the achievement gap between student groups
- Category 3: Excellence in serving special populations of students
The National Association of Elementary and Secondary Education Act State Program Administrators (NAESPA) implements the National ESEA Distinguished Schools Program to highlight selected schools that have successfully used their ESEA federal funds to improve the education for all students—including economically disadvantaged students. More information about all National ESEA Distinguished Schools is available on the ESEA Network website: www.ESEAnetwork.org.