New Mexico Student Meals

Kindergarteners who are learning remotely pick up meals at a bus stop near their home on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The siblings were escorted by their aunt, not seen, who said she's helping her sister with childcare as the family balances work with the remote schooling schedule.

(The Center Square) – Reading and math scores for New Mexico fourth and eighth graders sit well below national averages, data released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education shows.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, also called the Nation's Report Card, compared reading and math scores for fourth and eighth grades in 2022 and 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The average score for New Mexico students in both grades dropped by 10 points in math. In reading, fourth graders saw a five point drop and eighth graders had a four point drop.

New Mexico's average scores all sat well under the national averages. The state's average scores were 11 points below the national average for eighth grade reading; 15 points below the national average for eighth grade math; 14 points below the national average for fourth grade reading; and 14 points below the national average for fourth grade math. 

Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing wrote that the assessment results "are not pretty" for New Mexico, which he noted went into lockdown during the pandemic.

“New Mexico saw dramatic COVID-related declines which are reflected in the 2022 scores below, but more importantly came in dead last in all four categories (4th grade math/reading and 8th grade math/reading),” Gessing wrote. “Those scores placed New Mexico 51st across the board in all categories tested.” 

“New Mexico needs dramatic education reforms in order to boost student achievement,” Gessing told The Center Square. “The Governor’s and unions’ preferred idea of just pouring more money into the existing, broken system is doomed to fail.”

Last week, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the Public Education Department will pursue “high quality tutoring.” Details on how much the program will cost was not made clear, but the governor said she is “committed to investing in every available tool to deliver every educational opportunity to New Mexico students.”

According to the governor’s office, the tutoring program will focus on subjects including math and language arts in grades K-8.