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Latino Civil Rights Groups to Investigate New Mexico's Achievement Gap

posted Aug 14, 2012, 2:47 PM by ALAS deNuevoMéxico

State and national Latino civil rights groups plan to investigate New Mexico's achievement gap between Latino and white students.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) announced at a news conference in Albuquerque on Aug. 12 that the investigation will look into New Mexico school funding and its relation to student performance. The press conference was held by the Latino Education Task Force, a grass-roots, statewide education group.

Hispanics, combined with black and Native American students, account for 70 percent of New Mexico students, according to the Latino Education Task Force. But in reading and math proficiency, as well as graduation rates, Latinos lag behind Anglo students. Across the state, about 69 percent of Anglo third-graders are proficient in reading, compared with about 48 percent of Hispanic students. By eighth grade, about 72 percent of Anglo students read proficiently while about 49 percent of Hispanic students did, according to 2011-12 data from the New Mexico Public Education Department.

The achievement gap has been a focus of reform efforts launched by the state. The state’s new A-F grading system emphasizes improvements among the lowest 25 percent of students.