(Albuquerque) Recently, a report called the “Trial Urban District Assessment” (TUDA) was released (see charts here). The report compared student scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 21 urban school districts including Albuquerque. The Rio Grande Foundation and others have used New Mexico’s poor performance on the NAEP to argue for education reforms.
APS Superintendant Winston Brooks, upon release of the report, was quoted in the Albuquerque Journal as being “pretty ecstatic” about data showing that APS was “about average” compared to the 20 other cities in the report. Brooks went on to say, in a press release on the report that, “These results are encouraging because they show that APS is doing at least as well, and in several cases better, than many of the nation’s urban school districts facing similar educational challenges.”
But how similar are they? According to a Rio Grande Foundation analysis of the data (using US Census numbers), the families of students in APS are wealthier than 17 of the 20 districts analyzed in the TUDA report. In some instances, districts mentioned in the report had poverty rates more than two times that of APS. “Interestingly-enough,” noted Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing, “students in Miami-Dade, which of course has followed the ‘Florida Model’, brought to New Mexico by our Foundation, out-performed APS despite having higher poverty numbers.”
Gessing continued, “Poverty should not be a deciding factor in whether a child is educated or not. That is we have long argued for educational choice and reforms emphasizing accountability. Nonetheless, the worst possible conclusion to draw from the TUDA data is that administrators, parents, and legislators should be pleased because APS students are performing as well as their peers in other major cities, when in reality the students in these cities are in a state of poverty far worse than our own.”
This chart shows where APS is in terms of poverty relative to the other school districts mentioned in the report and which ones outperform APS on 4th grade reading.
 Hailey Heinz, Albuquerque Journal, December 8, 2011, http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2011/12/08/news/aps-scores-average-on-national-test.html.
 APS Test Scores Comparable to Big Cities, December 7, 2001, http://www.aps.edu/news/aps-test-scores-comparable-to-big-cities
 US Census Bureau “Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates”: http://www.census.gov/did/www/saipe/district.html