New Mexico Assessment Letter

May 8, 2006

Honorable Veronica C. Garcia
Secretary of Education
State of New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

Dear Secretary Garcia:

Thank you for submitting New Mexico’s assessment materials for review under the standards and assessment requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). We appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the peer review and hope that the process provides useful feedback that will support New Mexico’s efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards.

External peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff evaluated New Mexico’s submission and found, based on the evidence received, that it did not meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA. I know that my staff has discussed the results of this review with your staff. However, I want to take this opportunity to enumerate the evidence that New Mexico must provide in order to have a fully compliant standards and assessment system under NCLB. That evidence is listed on the last pages of this letter.

I urge you to submit any available evidence demonstrating how New Mexico’s system meets the standards and assessment requirements as soon as possible. I also request that, as soon as possible, you provide us a plan with a detailed timeline for how New Mexico will meet any remaining requirements for which evidence is not currently available. After reviewing those materials, I will then determine the appropriate approval status for New Mexico’s standards and assessment system.

Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated New Mexico’s assessment materials. The peer reviewers, experts in the areas of standards and assessment, review and discuss a State’s submission of evidence and prepare a consensus report. I hope you will find the reviewers’ comments and suggestions helpful, and remind you of our offer to provide you further technical assistance at your request.

We look forward to working with New Mexico to support a high-quality assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further or would like to request technical assistance, please do not hesitate to call Grace A. Ross (202-260-2493) or Catherine Freeman (202-401-3058) of my staff.


Henry L. Johnson


cc: Governor Bill Richardson
Don Watson

Summary of Additional Evidence that New Mexico Must Submit to Meet ESEA Requirements for the New Mexico Assessment System


  1. Evidence that the State’s content standards development panels for reading, mathematics, and science included special educators.


  1. Evidence that the State has alternate achievement level descriptors and cut scores for at least one grade per grade span for language arts and math, and alternate achievement level descriptors for at least one grade per grade span for science.
  2. Evidence of performance descriptors for high school science.
  3. Evidence that the State reports separately the number and percent of those students with disabilities assessed against alternate achievement standards and those included in the regular assessment.
  4. Evidence that the State’s achievement standards development panels for reading and mathematics included special educators.


  1. Results of the study evaluating the comparability of the English and Spanish language versions of each of the State’s assessments: language arts, math, and science.
  2. A clear description of the “transadaptation” process used for the Spanish mathematics assessment.


  1. With regard to the State’s general reading and mathematics assessments in grades 3-9, evidence:
    • That the State has evaluated decision accuracy and consistency for each achievement level for its general reading and mathematics assessments in grades 3-9.
    • That the State’s test specifications/blueprints for the general reading and mathematics assessments in grades 3-9 are detailed enough to support the development of test forms that are well-aligned to the standards and are comparable over time.
    • The results of the study of the consequential aspects of validity, including specific negative unintended consequences.
    • Documentation explaining how the State evaluated and used results from the DIF analyses.
  2. With regard to the State’s alternate assessments, evidence:
    • That the State’s alternate assessments and accompanying reports adequately reflect the structures defined in the State’s academic content standards in reading and math.
    • Of inter-rater agreement.
    • Of clear criteria for the administration, scoring, analysis, and reporting components.
  3. An explanation of why Spanish-language versions of the State’s reading and mathematics assessments are provided in grades 3-9 but not in grade 11.
  4. Documentation showing that both the State’s alternate assessment advisory panel and the Secretary’s Assessment and Accountability Advisory Council for the general assessments include content and special education representation.


  1. Evidence of how the State will ensure alignment between its academic content standards and the alternate academic achievement standards.
  2. Results of the Spanish language arts assessment alignment study in grades 3-9.


  1. An explanation of the apparent discrepancies in enrollment and test participation data for the subgroups and a description of the procedures the State is using to improve the quality of its data management and reporting systems.


  1. Clarification of how the State calculates participation rates. The State must calculate participation rates separately for each grade and content area and must use the number enrolled at the time of testing as the denominator.
  2. Evidence that the State reports assessment results for migrant students.

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