Parents concerned over Jornada Elementary's F grade

Failing school reveals improvement plan

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - As students return to school, some parents are concerned about one Las Cruces school. Jornada Elementary School was the only school in the Las Cruces Public Schools District to get an F.

Parents want to know why and what the school is doing about it.

A viewer emailed ABC-7 saying he's worried about what this F grade means for his children.

Another parent told ABC-7 she wanted to transfer her kids to another school because of it.

Principal Julio Martinez said the school is working hard to raise its grade.

"When it came out we were shocked. We were really shocked. We were surprised but with that we move forward," Martinez said.

Some parents felt the same way.

"I was shocked and disappointed at the same time. It's not what I was expecting at all," said Patrick Navarrate, a concerned parent.

Martinez told ABC-7 teachers and administrators at the school have been working overtime to fix this.

"I know parents are looking at it like, 'Hey, I send my kid to Jornada and we're the only school.' It's true. I can't deny that. We are the only school that's an F school, but we will not be for long," Martinez said.

Martinez said the school got the failing grade mainly because it lacked student growth.

He said the state tracks student improvement over a three year span. Jornada's proficiency in reading and math went down.

Last year the school had a 42 percent proficiency in reading and 35 percent in math.

"There is a deficiency there that we need to improve. We need to improve with looking and strictly focusing on instruction and filling in that gap between instruction and proficiency," Martinez said.

Martinez said the school is bringing in new math, reading and online programs to help students. The school will also test students throughout the year to pinpoint the students who are struggling.

"If it happens to be kids that are at the beginning step then what the teacher does in the classroom is actually put them in small groups, could be one-on-one with the teacher depending on how many kids missed that standard," Martinez said.

Martinez emphasized the grade is based on the standardized test students take at the end of the year.

"I want the parents to know that the grade is based on one measurement, not based on how the kids are doing on a daily basis, but it's not an excuse to say, 'It's only one measurement. Don't worry about it. It's only an F grade.' No, it's not an excuse. We're going to learn from it and we're going to move forward from it," he said.

Martinez said he will speak directly to parents at the school's open house next Thursday. He encourages anyone with questions to step forward and ask.

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