Colorado Continues to Make New Mexico Sick

I know we in the Land of Enchantment are all very tired of hearing about how Colorado does everything better than New Mexico. Sick of it.

Personally, I’m also sick of those folks who claim pretty much everything that makes Colorado better is due to the state’s legalization of marijuana. But that’s a topic better saved for another time.

So NM sickness abounds when it comes to mentioning or even thinking much about Colorado these days. Thus, it is with great sorrow that I write today to pass along yet another aspect in which Colorado is kicking our collective ass.

I refer to its reporting of PARCC standardized testing scores. I’m not talking about the scores themselves, because who really cares much about those. Instead, I’m talking about independent education news organization Chalkbeat Colorado, namely its chart and information-rich report entitled:

“Colorado state test scores inch up, but wide socioeconomic gaps remain”

Hell, the headline of this story alone is better than almost all K-12 education reporting in New Mexico, Better Burque very much included. The mere mention of “socioeconomic” in a headline zooms this report above what we see here, but there’s more. Much more.

For instance, check out this graph:


Now think back to the most prominent recent story about New Mexico scores and this graph:


Lest one think I’m cherry-picking here, check out both stories thoroughly in terms of content and visuals.

Yeah, it makes me sick, too.

Most important, notice the narrative tone of the Chalkbeat Colorado piece, somewhat summed up by this:

The state’s poorest students continue to academically lag behind their more affluent peers by wide margins. The gaps remain wide — some as large as 30 percentage points — and are generally not tightening because all students are making progress at about the same rate.

Only 27 percent of Colorado fourth-graders who qualify for subsidized meals at school met grade-level expectations on the English test, while 58 percent of their more affluent peers made the grade.

And Chalkbeat doesn’t stop at this, further probing into the important, yet arcane issue of standardized test data transparency:

Data transparency activists, however, are sure to cringe at array of school level results that won’t be made public due to ongoing concerns about student privacy. More than 20 percent of the results released from PARCC exams were redacted to ensure the public cannot identify an individual student’s results.

The state does this by following a complex set of rules that is set off if fewer than 16 students at a school score in a particular range. Before the state adopted these rules, it would only redact results if fewer than four students had the same score at a school.

Now that’s some edu-nerd heaven right there. Amazing stuff.

Of course, speaking of data, we’re comparing apples to oranges here. Colorado Chalkbeat is a single-issue publication. New Mexico doesn’t have such a publication.


Looking at the “about” page for Chalkbeat we find that it’s part of a network of five online papers scattered across the country. Funding comes:

…from a diverse mix of sources, including sponsors who pay for opportunities to share messages with our readers and donors who believe in our mission.

As Linda Ellerbee was always saying, “and so it goes.” Colorado has such a publication; New Mexico most certainly does not. So what do we do about that?

I’m currently checking every nook and cranny of my dog-hair covered couch for any change I can find. Perhaps if every New Mexican did that, we could scrape together enough money to get a story put out like this one from Colorado.

Until then, we’re just gonna keep getting sicker and sicker. Have a good weekend, anyway, New Mexico.


P.S.: Here’s another graph from the Colorado story, if your stomach can take it. Yes, that’s a scatter plot. Yes, my edu-nerd envy phaser is now set to “kill.”


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