- Total Enrollment 334,345
- Schools 884
- Economically Disadvantaged Students 73.1%
- Students with Disabilities 15.8%
- English Language Learners 15.8%
- Students Attending Urban Schools 45%
- Students Attending Rural Schools 18%
- Graduation Rate 71.1%
Data source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Common Core of Data (CCD). Graduation Rate data are from 2016/17; all other data are from 2017/18.
State Story March 2020 – April 2021
Dr. Ryan Stewart had served only 7 months in his appointed position as the Secretary of Education before the Governor announced all K-12 public schools would close the following Monday to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 community spread.
Initial Decisions and Approach
- Decisions should be based on keeping students, educators and families safe and be informed by the best available science and data.
- Students should return to school as soon as it is safe, as remote learning is not optimal for all students.
SEA and LEA Role Delineation
- Based on a state-wide approach.
- State decisions and guidance informed by LEA input.
- Baseline mandated requirements were co-created with health and science experts.
Supportive Partners or Resources
- State leaders, districts, CCSSO, and other professional agencies provided external support.
- State-level support was well-organized through the Governor’s office, with an emphasis on cross-agency collaboration.
- Being part of the Governor’s cabinet greatly helped the Secretary connect to departments like Homeland Security and the Department of Health.
New Mexico convened a School Reentry Taskforce made up of 32 diverse stakeholders to devise guidelines and protocols for students and staff to safety reenter school buildings. Resources and guidelines can be found online from the New Mexico Public Education Department.
- The NM Department of Health and the Governor initiated reentry decisions.
- SEA focused on creating a “new stability” and moving forward to serve schools, students, and families.
- SEA referenced previously established “strategic pillars” and considered if its management philosophy needed to change.
What Comes Next
- Make sure what was put in place is working by using data systems to track progress.
- Address broadband infrastructure issues.
- Build a library of resources that can help educators through the crisis.
August 2020 – December 2020
Re-Opening Plan Implementation
In early August 2020, Secretary Ryan Stewart advised LEAs that school reentry guidelines would lean on data across key indicators for safe in-person schooling. This was made possible by data-sharing and benchmarking from New Mexico’s Public Health officials.
Status of School Models
- Elementary schools were open for face-to-face instruction when health metrics were favorable, and hybrid when not.
- Secondary schools remained primarily remote.
- Students with special needs were served in person to the extent possible in small groups of five to one.
- Schools in hard-hit tribal communities remained remote and received numerous supports from the state.
Recover and Rebuild
January 2021 found Secretary Stewart prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable students and families. This required focusing on the academic and social-emotional needs of students, rethinking how to address those needs, and investing recovery funds to create equitable instructional access for all students.
Recover and Rebuild Section Two
Priorities (January 2021)
- Assessing what was learned during the first semester of educating during a pandemic.
- Preparing for the 60-day legislative session.
- Obtaining more refined income data to better identify the needs of low-income students and families.
Recover and Rebuild Section Three
Planning Learning Recovery
- Navigating opposing views about learning recovery needs.
- Providing professional development on both academic and social-emotional learning.
- Acknowledging the technology skills acquired by students and teachers during the pandemic.
Recover and Rebuild Section Four
Rethinking Assessment and Accountability
- Emphasized the need for assessment to:
- Be implemented in a safe environment,
- Inform instruction and interventions, and
- Allow for local flexibility and decisionmaking.
Recover and Rebuild Section Five
Funding Strategies and Priorities
- Advocating for family income tax relief.
- Addressing the "digital divide."
- Offsetting air quality upgrade costs.
Recover and Rebuild Section Six
Lesson Learned: Managing Communication
- Help agency partners understand the moving parts behind certain decisions.
- Carefully consider what is urgent and what can wait.
Planning for Summer and Next Year
Reflecting on In-Person Learning
- The state engaged in a gradual process of reviewing health metrics to slowly and methodically open up schools and keep them open.
- Data shows that the state’s mitigation and containment measures worked.
- Schools began to open more fully, and by the end of April 2021, all schools were fully open.