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February 4, 2005 Extra Credit
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February 4, 2005

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First Lady Recognizes Improvements of New Mexico Elementary School

The following are excerpts from an article in today’s El Paso Times (TX) highlighting the improvements the students at Desert View Elementary School have made in reading and math:

"Desert View Elementary School officials are beaming with pride after a sharp increase in reading and math proficiencies at the school prompted first lady Laura Bush to invite its principal and a teacher to the State of the Union address on Wednesday.

"Desert View Principal Susan Yturralde and bilingual kindergarten teacher Lorna Clark flew to Washington, D.C., and were allowed to sit in the first lady's box as the president gave his annual address to the nation."

"‘It was just a thrill to be there,’ Yturralde said upon her arrival in El Paso on Thursday night. ‘It's such a wonderful acknowledgement of the hard work that the teachers have done and the students have done, and their parents.’"

"Before the 2003-04 school year, reading and math proficiency measured by the New Mexico Standards-based Assessment forced Desert View into a probationary status, according to the state's accountability rules.

"Desert View's reading scores increased from 20 percent proficiency on the exam in 2002-03 to 42 percent in 2003-04, while math scores during the same period improved from 20 percent to 46 percent.

"The introduction of new teaching methods during the 2003-04 school year prompted the striking improvement in scores for Desert View on the New Mexico standardized exam, Yturralde said.

"The better scores have had a positive overall effect on the school, Assistant Principal Fernando Carrasco said. ‘You can see the uplifting of the institutional mood in the school,’ he said. ‘Teachers and kids are not afraid to tackle the test now. I guess they feel like they're all charged up.’"

"Instructors at Desert View -- who credited No Child Left Behind for the elementary school's dramatic improvement -- made a number of changes that resulted in the turnaround, said Maria Elena Torres, early intervention coordinator in reading at the school."

"‘They have learned how to read because we are providing opportunities for students to select the materials that they're reading, and then teachers plan around students’ choices,’ she [Torres] said."

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Last Modified: 08/13/2013