Clovis High students preparing for new assessment test

Liliana Castillo

Clovis High School juniors are on a 21-day diet.

It’s a 21-day lesson plan that will help prepare them for the New Mexico Standards-Based High School Graduation Assessment.

The critical test is March 29-31 and April 5-7. This is the first year juniors across New Mexico will take the test as a criteria for graduation.

Previously, juniors took the New Mexico High School Competency Exam.

The New Mexico Public Education Department chose to switch from one exam to the other as part of high school redesign legislation enacted in 2008, said NMPED Public Information Officer Beverly Friedman.

The legislation also provides that a workforce readiness assessment and college placement test will be administered in grade 11, and short-cycle assessments will be administered in grades 9 and 10.

Friedman said these requirements reflect increasing national attention on preparing students to graduate high school ready for college or the workforce.

“The replacement of the NMHSCE (competency exam) was necessary to meet that objective,” Friedman said.

She said the NMHSCE measures academic achievement at the eighth grade level and the grade 11 SBA/HSGA measures mastery of academic content standards in reading, math, writing, science, and social studies at the high school level.

Counselors in the area said they believe the new test is tougher and a more thorough assessment of juniors’ skills.

Texico counselor Elnabeth Grau said she believes the SBA/HSGA exam is more difficult because it requires students to answer not only multiple choice questions but also extended response questions.

“It requires students to do a lot of writing and critical thinking application,” Grau said.

CHS Head Counselor Pam Cornelison said the competency exam has been in use since around 1994. Grau said she felt the competency exam was becoming out-dated because of length of time it has been used.

Cornelison said preparation is the biggest part of the SBA/HSGA exam.

The 21-day diet is 21 days of work in English and math for juniors to review.

“So they have it fresh on their minds before they take the test,” Cornelison said. “We’re doing things to try to help them so they won’t have to retake it.”

CHS junior Courtni Jennings, 17, said the diet focuses on questions she and her classmates may see on the test.

“I’m not worried because I feel I’m ready and we’re preparing,” she said.

Jennings said much that the juniors are studying is review.

“Most of the math is stuff I’ve done a year or two ago as I’m taking pre-AP pre-calculus now,” she said. “But the English is the same as what we’ve been doing this year because we’re preparing for an AP test.”

Cornelison said students who fail portions of the exam have another chance as a junior and one chance as a senior to pass any portions they fail the first time.

“I think that it’s always good to raise the bar,” Grau said.