New Mexico is at a crossroads.

Voters this fall will face a choice between two very different visions for our future. One path would continue current policies on a number of key issues — including standardized testing — that have not delivered results for our children or our families.

Another approach would move forward with solutions to the key challenges facing New Mexico with the goal of improving the lives of families across the state.

Because this choice is so important, it’s crucial that voters have all the information they need to make an informed decision this fall. That’s why we’ll be highlighting a number of the most important questions facing New Mexico voters throughout the summer.

First up

is a question that is dominating discussion
of public education in the state:
Should we continue the extensive standardized testing
that is consuming a significant amount of our
children’s time in school?

On one side are Republican Governor
Susana Martinez and State Education
Secretary Hanna Skandera,

who’ve repeatedly defended the tests as the best way
to measure student learning.

On the other side of the issue are a
growing number of parents, teachers,
and Democratic State Senate candidates

who are calling for a greater emphasis on
teaching over testing.

Below are some of the important things to know about
the effort to emphasize teaching over testing in New
Mexico’s public schools.

What’s the argument against emphasizing
standardized testing in our schools?

The arguments against standardized testing are growing louder — and stronger — throughout
New Mexico. Some of the loudest objections are related to funding priorities, interference
with the learning process, and how the tests aren’t fair for many of
our students.

Testing is getting in the way of learning:

Parents across the state are concerned with the long-term impact of the emphasis on standardized testing. In their view, with all of the time and effort devoted to standardized testing, students in New Mexico’s schools are losing the opportunity to actually learn. In the competitive world we live in today, this has the potential to greatly limit their potential in college and career.

The wrong educational funding priorities:

Many teachers around the state point to the emphasis on standardized testing as an example of misguided priorities on the part of many politicians in Santa Fe. They point out that at the same time that New Mexico is underfunding our public schools, taxpayers are footing the bill for the millions of dollars paid to the out-of-state corporation that administers standardized tests.

Not fair for our kids:

Evidence is growing that school report cards — which use standardized test scores — tend to reward schools in affluent areas and penalize schools with low-income families or who are learning English. This punitive approach doesn’t do anything to really help improve classroom results or prepare our children for success.



“Standardized testing is like a giant hammer that’s coming down on my students. I haven’t received any useful information from the tests and neither have they.”

– Heather McGuire,
High School English Teacher


“I think the testing is useless. It takes a month of our school time and we’re so behind on our work afterwards.”

– Esme,
5th Grader


“Because of all the standardized testing we have to do, we’re really done with teaching and learning in April. After that, the tests disrupt the rest of the school year for my students.”

– Robert Frausto,
High School English Teacher

Join us now!

New Mexico spends at
least $11.4 million on
standardized testing in
our public schools.

[Source: Albuquerque Journal,
March 1, 2015]

A recent study found
that preparation for
testing takes up to 10
days away from learning
in a school year.

[Source: Legislative Finance
Committee Report #16-04]

The time needed for
students to take
standardized tests in
New Mexico is over 10

[Source: Albuquerque Journal,
March 1, 2015]

A new approach to public
education in New Mexico

Instead of continuing the emphasis on testing over teaching in our public schools, the Democratic candidates on the State Senate ballot this year support a very different approach to public education:

  • Increase public education funding to give our schools the resources they need to be successful.
  • Give our kids the personal attention they deserve by reducing class sizes.
  • Emphasize teaching over testing to provide students with the educational opportunities they need to build bright futures.
  • Provide greater access to early childhood education so that every child in New Mexico gets a solid start in school.

Where the candidates stand


State Senator John Sapien, District 9

As Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Senator John Sapien has called for a re-evaluation of the prominent role that testing plays in our schools, saying: “Many educators and parents throughout the state are very dissatisfied with this grading system based on tests that other states have already tried and scrapped.” Senator Sanchez also voted against confirming Hanna Skandera as New Mexico’s Education Secretary — Skandera has been leading the move towards increased standardized testing in New Mexico public schools.


State Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto, District 15

As a former teacher, Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto knows what works and what doesn’t when it comes to public education in New Mexico. Ivey-Soto has made a point of talking with people in his community to hear their views on the effects of excessive standardized testing in our public schools.


State Senator Michael Sanchez, District 29

Senator Sanchez has long been a leader on education issues in Santa Fe. He sponsored legislation creating the Legislative Lottery Scholarship program in 1996; since then, over 100,000 New Mexicans have received help attending college. Senator Sanchez also voted against confirming Hanna Skandera as New Mexico’s Education Secretary — Skandera has been leading the move towards increased standardized testing in New Mexico public schools.


State Senator Bill Soules, District 37

As a retired teacher, Senator Soules applies his classroom experience to decision-making on public education in Santa Fe. Senator Soules also voted against confirming Hanna Skandera as New Mexico’s Education Secretary — Skandera has been leading the increase in standardized testing in the state’s public schools.


Liz Stefanics, District 39

Liz Stefanics has a longtime commitment to improving education for New Mexico’s children and she serves on the Mayor’s Children, Youth and Family Community Cabinet. Stefanics has also called on lawmakers to, “Increase local decision-making power so that we can focus less on testing and more on the needs of each student.”


Jeff Steinborn, District 36

Jeff Steinborn has opposed the educational policies put forth by Education Secretary Hanna Skandera saying, “I find her agenda to be rather punitive. And I think that’s the way it’s being perceived by educators – that, in a way, they’re being blamed. I think what’s important is that we continue to invest in kids, we continue to mentor kids. Early childhood education is extremely important. We need to increase access and funding for that.”