FARMINGTON — State Education Department officials have turned down the appeals filed by three San Juan County school districts alleging that incorrect data was used to determine their schools' grades.
Administrators from the Bloomfield, Central Consolidated and Farmington Municipal school districts filed appeals with the New Mexico Public Education Department for all schools in the three districts after they spotted possible erroneous data used to calculate the grades each school received this year.
Leighann Lenti, deputy secretary for policy and programs for the state education department, said none of the appeals filed for the 40 schools were approved.
Robert Emerson, Farmington schools assistant superintendent of educational services and data management, said data used for the 2012 report card was listed incorrectly on a graph used to determine the three-year summary score for all schools on this year's report card.
Lenti said the confusion came from a misinterpretation of the graph.
"The data was correct and was used for the standings," Lenti said.
Bloomfield assistant superintendent Chuck Culpepper said he saw a similar issue where incorrect data was used from the 2012 student test scores.
"The state has told us, the figures are correct. I don't believe they are," Culpepper said.
Lenti said the data from 2012 and 2013 school report cards used in this year's report cards was correct and the graphs are meant to be a visual representation of the trend of the school.
Phil Kasper, CCSD administration director, said the district filed appeals for its 16 schools for a similar issue.
"Within the school grade, part of it is based on a three-year trend of the school. There are graphs and charts depicting the three-year trend," Kasper said. "What we noticed in school year 2011, the graph depicting 2011 was not indicative of data that the schools generated in 2011."
Kasper said the district wanted the state education department to check data from the 2011 school year.
"If you're counting that graph on the three-year rating, then there is a possibility our schools will be a little bit stronger," Kasper said.
Lenti said districts have an opportunity to review the data used before grades are calculated to see if any information is incorrect. Districts have two weeks to file an appeal on school grades after they are released each year.
"A lot of the time, they want a clarification about some components the grades are calculated on," Lenti said.
Emerson and Culpepper said the calculations used to determine school grades are too complicated to know if an error was made, and collecting evidence to show an error is difficult.
"It's a complicated calculation. It's hard to be specific about what is and what isn't a correct or incorrect calculation," Culpepper said. "This was glaring enough that someone brought it to our attention."
Lenti said the state education department received about 70 appeals last year and expects to see a similar number this year.
The Farmington school district filed two other appeals with the state education department.
Emerson said an appeal was filed for Mesa View Middle School, which saw a population change from redistricting that could have changed a couple of scores on the report card.
Lenti said the model used for Mesa View's school grade was correct, and the appeal was turned down.
The third appeal filed by Farmington Schools was about the state education department assigning bonus points for school districts with pilot programs for the online state assessment tests last school year.
Emerson said the report doesn't say how the bonus points were calculated and where the points were listed on the report.
Lenti said the school grade system does not allow appeals related to bonus points since its outside of what the department looks at from a academic standpoint.