New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance

This alliance seeks to use data and evidence to understand factors that facilitate or impede progress in reducing achievement gaps among subpopulations of K–12 students in New Mexico. Alliance work includes developing a research agenda, conducting research, and supporting the use of data and evidence to improve practice, policy, and student outcomes.



Goals

  • Identify factors that facilitate or impede efforts to reduce achievement gaps among New Mexico’s Hispanic and Native American students in K–12 education
  • Expand the capacity of educators and policymakers to use data and evidence to reduce achievement gaps

Research Focus

Alliance members have identified the following research topics and subtopics as priorities:

  • Transition to high school
  • College and career readiness
  • English learners
  • Family engagement

Alliance Flyer

screen cap of alliance flyer

Alliance Contact

Carmen Martinez, Alliance Liaison
cmartinez@air.org

Work Updates

2017

Summer/Fall

During this period, the New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to discuss alliance projects and to plan for transitioning the alliance when the current REL Southwest contract ends in November 2017.

On June 22, the alliance convened via webinar to discuss the preliminary results of the alliance study Graduation Exam Participation and Performance, Graduation Rates, and Advanced Course-Taking Following Changes in New Mexico Graduation Requirements, 2011–15. This study looked at the first three cohorts of public high school students subject to the state's new graduation requirements to learn how American Indian and Hispanic students are faring. The final report for this study is available on the IES website.

On September 28, the alliance convened via webinar to discuss whether to transition or sunset the alliance. The members chose to transition the alliance to continue its work. In addition, members discussed ways to disseminate and promote the alliance's reports and products.

On October 31, the alliance convened in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a quarterly meeting. REL Southwest staff presented final results on the study mentioned above as well as another alliance study: Advanced Course Completion Rates Among New Mexico High School Students Following Changes in Graduation Requirements. This study examined the percentage of New Mexico high school students who enrolled in and completed advanced coursework under the new graduation requirements. The final report for this study is available on the IES website.

During the second half of the meeting, REL Southwest staff and alliance members celebrated the accomplishments of the New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance over the past 5 years. Members then received certificates of appreciation to recognize their participation in and commitment to the alliance.

On November 8, the alliance sponsored a research-to-practice bridge event webinar, "Closing the Achievement Gap: Research from New Mexico." The webinar spotlighted the two alliance studies mentioned above. The archived webinar is available online.

On November 14, the alliance convened via webinar for its final meeting. REL Southwest researchers shared preliminary findings from the Understanding Connections Between English and Spanish Proficiency for English Learner Students in New Mexico study. This study looked at data from four New Mexico school districts to examine time to proficiency for Spanish-speaking English learner students during elementary school. The study also examined how students' initial Spanish proficiency related to their attainment of English language proficiency and state standards in reading and math. The report for this study will be published on the IES website late this year or early next year.

Spring

During this quarter, the New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to discuss alliance projects and plan and hold events.

On April 26, the alliance convened in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a quarterly meeting. This meeting included training on the use of a custom tool for identifying and accessing available data and research related to topics in the alliance's research agenda. In addition, alliance members received presentations on two alliance studies:

REL Southwest staff are currently finalizing the reports for these studies, and alliance members from the New Mexico Legislative Education Study Committee and the New Mexico Public Education Department stated that the findings would be highly useful in their current work.

The meeting ended with progress updates on the final reports for the other two alliance studies: Assessing the Role of Noncognitive and School Environmental Factors in New Mexico Students' Transitions to Grade 9 study and Understanding Connections Between English and Spanish Proficiency for English Learner Students in New Mexico study. Both reports are expected to be published later this year.

Winter

During this quarter, the New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to address questions, discuss alliance projects, and plan events. This communication included planning for the alliance's next quarterly meeting, which was held April 26, 2017, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This meeting included training for alliance members and other staff from their organizations on the use of a tool for accessing available data and research publications to address the remaining questions in the alliance's research agenda.

Progress also continued on the alliance projects. On the Assessing the Role of Noncognitive and School Environmental Factors in New Mexico Students' Transitions to Grade 9 study, the project team continued data analysis for the 10 participating districts and began summarizing the results. On the Understanding Connections Between English and Spanish Proficiency for English Learner Students in New Mexico study, the project team finished data collection and analysis for the five participating districts and began drafting the final report. In addition, staff continued revising the final reports for the New Mexico Achievement Gap Course-Taking Patterns study and the Descriptive Study of New Mexico's New High School Graduation Assessment and Course Requirements.

2016

Fall

During this quarter, the New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to address questions, discuss projects, and plan and hold events.

Progress continued on the alliance projects. Staff working on the study Assessing the Role of Noncognitive and School Environmental Factors in New Mexico Students' Transitions to Grade 9 received final outcome data for nine of the districts. Staff working on the study Understanding Connections Between English and Spanish Proficiency for English Learner Students in New Mexico continued to collect Spanish proficiency data from five districts that serve a majority of the state's Spanish-speaking English learner students. Staff also made revisions based on IES review to the final reports for the New Mexico Achievement Gap Course-Taking Patterns study and the Descriptive Study of New Mexico's New High School Graduation Assessment and Course Requirements.

On November 8, Carmen Martinez, the research alliance liaison, and Ada Muoneke, the research alliance manager, co-facilitated an alliance meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Brenda Arellano, alliance researcher, presented information about the alliance project Understanding Connections Between English and Spanish Proficiency for English Learner Students in New Mexico. In addition, alliance members received a presentation on a resource tool designed to help them access research publications and data to address questions in the alliance research agenda. After the presentation, members received hands-on practice using the tool.

Also on November 8, the alliance co-hosted the "Strengthening School Partnerships With Native Families and Communities" bridge event webinar in collaboration with REL Southwest's Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance and REL Pacific's Guam Alliance for Family and Community Engagement. The event described promising practices and a resource toolkit for engaging Native families and communities.

Summer

During this quarter, the New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to address questions, discuss projects, and plan and hold events. The alliance liaison, Dr. Linda Cavazos, is transitioning to other work and began mentoring the new liaison, Carmen Martinez.

Progress continued on the alliance projects. Staff working on the study Assessing the Role of Noncognitive and School Environmental Factors in New Mexico Students' Transitions to Grade 9 began sending the school survey reports to the 10 participating school districts and requesting final outcome data for the more than 3,000 grade 9 students who participated.

Staff working on the study Understanding Connections Between English and Spanish Proficiency for English Learner Students in New Mexico began collecting Spanish proficiency data from four districts that serve 71 percent of the state's Spanish-speaking English learner students.

Staff also completed data analysis and began drafting the final reports for the New Mexico Achievement Gap Course-Taking Patterns study and the Descriptive Study of New Mexico's New High School Graduation Assessment and Course Requirements.

Spring

During this quarter, the New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance liaison communicated regularly with alliance members to address their questions and concerns and to plan upcoming events. Planning began for the next alliance quarterly meeting, which will feature presentations and updates on the alliance projects.

Also during this quarter, staff working on the Assessing the Role of Noncognitive and School Environmental Factors in New Mexico Students' Transitions to Grade 9 Study began data analysis for the more than 3,000 grade 9 student surveys completed. In addition, the team obtained student demographic data from the 10 participating school districts to complete the school survey reports. An update on the project was presented to the REL Southwest Governing Board on May 2. Read our Focus: New Mexico article to learn more about our work on this project.

Progress was also made on the Understanding Connections Between English and Spanish Proficiency for English Learner Students in New Mexico, the New Mexico Achievement Gap Course-Taking Patterns Study, and the Descriptive Study of New Mexico's New High School Graduation Assessment and Course Requirements.

Winter

The New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance held a quarterly meeting in December 2015. Agenda items included two recent alliance presentations: one on biliteracy/bilingualism at the La Cosecha Dual Language Education Conference and one on Native parent engagement at the New Mexico Indian Summit. Both conferences took place in Albuquerque in November. Members also received an update on the Descriptive Study of New Mexico's New High School Graduation Assessment and Course Requirements and other alliance projects.

During the quarter, the liaison and alliance members communicated regularly to address member questions and concerns and to plan several workshops and bridge events. Preliminary discussions for alliance workshop ideas were discussed along with early ideas for the 2016 La Cosecha Dual Language Education Conference. Alliance members were also invited to attend the "Helping Newcomers Succeed Through Effective Programs and Practices" bridge event, which was held in Houston on March 8.

As part of a study on Assessing the Role of Noncognitive and School Environmental Factors in Students' Grade 9 Transitions in New Mexico, REL Southwest researchers administered a survey to grade 9 students in 14 high schools in 10 public school districts across the state. Survey administration took place from November 2015 through January 2016. More than 3,000 students completed the survey, which was available in both English and Spanish. Students at 11 schools completed paper surveys, while students at 3 schools completed online surveys.

2015

Fall

In September 2015, alliance members convened for a quarterly meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The members participated in a capacity-building workshop on the New Mexico Achievement Gap Data Inventory, received updates on current alliance projects and studies, and provided feedback on proposed projects.

Also during this quarter, the alliance's Native American Working Group met to plan a member-liaison presentation for a cross-REL event at the Native Indian Education Association Conference, which took place in October 2015 in Portland, Oregon. The alliance liaison also planned a second alliance presentation, titled "Increasing Family Engagement of Native Americans and Hispanics," as part of a cross-REL panel at the conference. In addition, the alliance's Biliteracy Working Group met to plan a member panel presentation for the Dual Language Education's La Cosecha Conference, which took place in November 2015 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Summer

In May 2015, members of the New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance met for a quarterly meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The meeting included updates on the alliance’s research projects as well as a brainstorming workshop to explore possible technology solutions for raising Hispanic and Native American parents’ awareness of education matters affecting their children. A subsequent workshop will be planned to design ways to use technology/media to improve parental awareness of school matters.

During this quarter, REL Southwest staff also participated in multiple meetings to plan a cross-REL/cross-alliance session at the National Indian Education Association Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon, in October 2015. In addition, staff participated in multiple meetings to plan alliance events at two annual conferences in November 2015: the La Cosecha Conference, hosted by the Dual Language Education of New Mexico, and the Back to School Family and Student Leadership Institute Conference, hosted by the Center for the Education and Study of Diverse Populations at New Mexico Highlands University.

In July 2015, REL Southwest conducted the bridge event “Facilitating Professional Learning Communities to Support English Learners” in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This all-day event, which introduced the REL Southwest’s new publication Professional Learning Communities Facilitator’s Guide, helped participants learn how to assist a professional learning community in applying the recommendations in the What Works Clearinghouse Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School practice guide.

Also in July, REL Southwest held a two-part blended event in Austin, Texas. The all-day event began with a bridge event session titled “Building Biliteracy Instruction, Programs, and Services,” followed by a cross-alliance workshop titled “Designing Intensive Programs and Services for English Learners.” The presentations featured strategies for planning, supporting, and improving instructional services, programs, and interventions for English learners.

Spring

In February 2015, the alliance held its quarterly meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The meeting focused on research project updates and alliance maintenance and communication activities. In addition, the first alliance topical working group meetings were held. The Native American Indian Working Group is focused on problems of practice related to Native American students, and the Biliteracy/Bilingual Working Group is focused on problems of practice related to bilingualism/biliteracy, especially for Hispanic students. Each working group agreed on group goals and structures (for example, format, length, and frequency of future meetings), member roles, and subtopics for future projects and workshops.

REL Southwest staff also conducted a site visit to Santa Fe Indian School (SFIS), where an alliance member is on staff. The goal of the visit was to learn about promising practices and academic programs for Native American secondary students as well as to provide outreach and maintain member engagement in alliance work. Successful SFIS programs targeting Native American students and lessons learned from the visit will be highlighted and shared in the REL Southwest newsletter and website.

In March, discussions and planning with alliance members continued regarding a second workshop on parental engagement, a July bridge event in Albuquerque, and an event at La Cosecha Conference in Albuquerque in October. Also in March and April, the alliance liaison networked with alliance members at two different national conferences, helping strengthen member engagement and provide informal needs sensing.

During this quarter, REL Southwest researchers also began work on the proposed Descriptive Study of New High School Graduation Assessment and Course Requirements, which will describe the changes in student outcomes that coincide with the state's 2013 transition to the new high school graduation course requirements and assessment.

Winter

In November 2014, alliance members met in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to attend the first of a series of workshops titled Increasing Family Engagement of Native Americans and Hispanics: Sharing Successful Strategies. This event featured two national Native American speakers and a local panel of five alliance members. During the month, alliance members also had the opportunity to attend an Understanding Logic Models Technical Assistance session in Ruidoso, New Mexico, and a Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School bridge event webinar.

In December and January, REL Southwest staff began work on three new proposed alliance studies that, in turn, look at high school course-taking patterns, student outcomes associated with New Mexico's new high school graduation exam and course requirements, and connections between English and Spanish proficiency development for English learners.

2014

October

On October 1, alliance members attended an Understanding Logic Models workshop, the second in a series, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During the half-day workshop, participants learned how to use logic models to generate hypotheses, develop research questions given real-world constraints, and develop and map impact questions. A follow-up technical assistance workshop is planned for November 20, 2014, in Ruidoso, New Mexico.

During the month, several site visits with alliance members were also conducted to obtain feedback on the work of the alliance and the creation of topical work groups.

REL Southwest staff began developing content for an alliance capacity-building workshop titled Increasing Family Engagement of Native Americans and Hispanics: Sharing Successful Strategies, to be held on November 19, 2014, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is the first of a series of workshops focused on increasing parental engagement. In addition, research staff continued to revise the proposal for the Assessing the Role of Noncognitive and School Environmental Factors in Students' Grade 9 Transitions in New Mexico study.

August–September

In August, Dr. Linda Cavazos joined SEDL as the new alliance liaison for the New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance. REL Southwest thanks Dr. Patricia Jimenez-Latham for her dedication and hard work in her role as interim alliance liaison. She effectively championed the work of the alliance and recruited additional members who will advance that work and the alliance research agenda.

On September 18–19, 2014, Dr. Cavazos and the REL Southwest director conducted site visits to alliance members' organizations in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. During these visits, the research agenda was reviewed, updates were provided on the current research projects, and the proposed projects for the upcoming year were discussed. Alliance members provided feedback on all of these topics. In addition, the second Understanding Logic Models Workshop was scheduled for October 2014. Research staff continued to revise the proposal for the Assessing the Role of Noncognitive and School Environmental Factors in Students' Grade 9 Transitions in New Mexico study.

July

On July 17, alliance members attended the first Understanding Logic Models workshop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At this workshop, alliance members learned the fundamentals of creating and using logic models and began developing their organizations' logic models. A second workshop is planned for late September or early October 2014.

The New Mexico Data Inventory and the final survey and report for the Measuring Noncognitive Factors Through Student Surveys Workshop Series were both approved in July. In addition, REL Southwest staff continued to refine the proposal for the Assessing the Role of Noncognitive and School Environmental Factors in Students' Grade 9 Transitions in New Mexico study.

June

During June, staff continued to work with alliance members to complete the New Mexico student survey for measuring noncognitive factors related to grade 9 transitions. Alliance members, with staff support, began developing this survey during a workshop series on best practices of survey development and administration. Also in June as part of this same project, REL Southwest researchers conducted cognitive interviews with high school students to gain feedback on the survey items. Researchers continued as well to refine the proposal for the related study, Assessing the Role of Noncognitive and School Environmental Factors in Students’ Grade 9 Transitions in New Mexico.

The New Mexico Data Inventory for the alliance was finalized, and staff began preparing the alliance’s first Understanding Logic Models workshop, to be held on July 17 in New Mexico. The second workshop is scheduled for September 2014.

May

REL Southwest staff continued working with alliance members to develop a New Mexico student survey for measuring noncognitive factors related to student learning and successful grade 9 transitions. The work is being done through a series of workshops, and the third workshop was held May 8, 2014. At the face-to-face event, REL Southwest staff shared the latest version of the survey, and alliance members provided feedback and reviewed items for clarity and relevance. Staff also worked with alliance members to identify New Mexico schools from which to recruit 9 middle or high school students who will participate in cognitive interviews to provide feedback on the clarity of the survey items.

In addition, REL Southwest staff began developing the proposal for a related research study, Assessing the Role of Noncognitive and School Environmental Factors in Students’ Grade 9 Transitions in New Mexico.

April

April was a busy month for the New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance. On April 23, members met face-to-face in Albuquerque, where they discussed and provided feedback on the alliance's research agenda, current research study and analytic technical support projects, and a planning team structure for guiding the rollout of alliance activities. Alliance members continued to network during and after the meeting.

On April 25, four alliance members presented on a panel at the 41st Annual Conference of the New Mexico Association for Bilingual Education (NMABE). During the panel session, the members shared information about the alliance's efforts to close the achievement gap among the state's Hispanic and Native American students, discussed key topics on the alliance's research agenda, and answered questions about the work of the alliance. REL Southwest worked with NMABE to sponsor the alliance panel and one of the keynote speakers as a research-to-practice bridge event. Conference attendees learned practitioner-friendly strategies related to helping English language learners meet the Common Core State Standards in English language arts as well as hands-on strategies and techniques.

In addition, work continued on the development of a New Mexico student survey for measuring noncognitive factors related to learning. The construction of this survey is part of a three-part workshop series for the alliance on developing student surveys. After the second workshop, which was held in March, REL Southwest staff developed an initial draft of the survey, sent it to alliance members for feedback, and then made refinements based on that feedback. The survey will be finalized at the third workshop, scheduled for May 2014.

March

In March, the alliance and interested stakeholders participated in Part 2 of a three-part workshop series on developing student surveys. The workshop series is designed to build participants' capacity on the fundamentals of the development, administration, and analysis of student surveys. In Part 2 of the workshop, titled Survey Methods in Research: Planning for a Survey, REL Southwest researchers equipped participants with knowledge of best practices for sound survey development and then guided participants in the ongoing development of a New Mexico student survey for measuring noncognitive factors related to learning.

Through hands-on exercises and discussions, participants learned key steps in preparing for a survey research project, how to locate sources for existing survey items, and the fundamentals of writing effective survey items. Also, participants discussed a listing of noncognitive constructs and associated operational measures (that is, scales, measures, and inventories) for potential inclusion in the New Mexico student survey mentioned above. In May, alliance members and their colleagues will participate in Part 3 of the workshop series.

February

The New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance welcomed three new members to the group in February. At the monthly meeting, alliance members shared state legislative education outcomes from the 2014 session as well as upcoming statewide initiatives that align to alliance goals. Additionally, alliance members participated in an interactive webinar titled Noncognitive Factors and Grade 9 Transitions, conducted by REL Southwest researchers. The event was the first in a 3-part series on developing effective surveys, with a focus on developing a student survey to measure noncognitive factors related tostudents’ transitions from grade 8 to grade 9.

The following project concepts were presented to the alliance for discussion and for planning future proposals to the Institute of Education Sciences (IES):

  • Measuring Noncognitive Factors Through Student Surveys
  • Understanding Logic Models Technical Assistance: Assessing the Promise of Interventions for Facilitating Student Transitions
  • Proposed Research on the Relationships Between Noncognitive and School Environmental Factors in Students’ Grade 9 Transitions

January

The REL Southwest alliance liaison, Dr. Sylvia Pirtle, moved on to lead another project within the SEDL organization. Dr. Patricia Jiménez-Latham, director of the Center for the Education and Study of Diverse Populations at New Mexico Highlands University, will serve as interim alliance liaison. Dr. Jiménez-Latham has many years of experience working with New Mexico school districts that serve Native American and Hispano/Latino student populations and families. She will continue to work with the alliance on its proposed research agenda, which will drive the alliance’s future research studies and projects.