The New Mexico graduation rate has lagged behind the national graduation rate in recent years. In 2015 the graduation rate was 69 percent in New Mexico and 83 percent nationwide (New Mexico Public Education Department, 2016; U.S. Department of Education, 2017). Of particular interest to education leaders in New Mexico are differences in graduation rates among American Indian (63 percent in 2015), Hispanic (67 percent), and White students (74 percent). Improving graduation rates among all student subgroups is a priority for New Mexico, as is ensuring that all students have the math and science knowledge and skills required for success in the 21st century workplace or in postsecondary education. This study responds to the Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance's and the New Mexico Public Education Department's interest in student performance on the graduation exam and in graduation rates among students at various levels of performance on the exam. The alliance and the department were also interested in patterns of enrollment in Algebra II and lab science courses, along with the four-year graduation rate among students who take and those who do not take these additional courses. The study reports student participation in the graduation exam and proficiency rates (the percentage of students who score proficient or better) for each section and provides the four-year graduation rate among the last cohort that took the old exam (the 2011 cohort) and among the four cohorts that took the new exam (the 2012-15 cohorts). The study also reports the percentage of students who took Algebra II and two lab science courses and the graduation rate among the 2014 and 2015 cohorts, which were subject to the new math and science course requirements. Results are reported by cohort overall and by gender, race/ethnicity, eligibility for the federal school lunch program (a proxy for socioeconomic deprivation), and English learner status. The study does not provide evidence on the causal impact of the changes to graduation requirements. Changes to graduation requirements, such as the ones enacted in New Mexico, are usually intended to motivate positive change, such as better student performance and higher enrollment in more-challenging courses. The study findings show that the overall direction of change is positive for graduation exam performance, advanced course enrollment, and graduation rates but that differences exist across subgroups. The differences may have implications for targeting resources and services to students most in need of support for staying in school and fulfilling graduation requirements.
ERIC DescriptorsAcademic Achievement, Academic Persistence, Achievement Gap, Advanced Classes, Advanced Placement, Algebra, Career Readiness, College Readiness, Course Selection (Students), English Language Learners, Ethnic Groups, Exit Examinations, Gender Differences, Graduation Rate, Graduation Requirements, High School Graduates, Public Schools, Racial Differences, Science Instruction, Science Laboratories, Secondary School Mathematics, Secondary School Science, Socioeconomic Status, Student Participation
Southwest | Publication Type: Descriptive Study | Publication
Date: October 2017