The state’s bi-partisan budget analysts report that the State’s Public Education Department is fudging the numbers on the governor’s keystone early education program ahead of a request for more money in the upcoming year’s budget.
When the Reads to Lead program was first launched in 2011, PED touted the $8.5 million expenditure as their keystone early education program and featured it prominently in its July 2012 PED newsletter, alongside pictures of Gov. Martinez reading to children at schools across New Mexico.
She made it a central piece of her 2012 State of the State address, having appeared at 38 schools to read with students, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Last year, the department’s own report on the program (p.20) says, “since the implementation of Reads to Lead in 2012, approximately 6,000 educator, administrator, and reading coach participants have received professional development to assist struggling readers.”
Those numbers have led PED to request larger and larger appropriations for the program each year.
In August 2014, PED reported The Reads to Lead funding history, to date, in the chart below:
“Erroneous Data” says program succeeds, Data used to request more money
But in a report issued this month ahead of the 2016 legislative session, the state’s bi-partisan budget analysts, employees of the joint House-Senate Legislative Finance Committee, included this scathing analysis of the PED’s Education Reform initiatives in their latest budget analysis:
That says a lot. So let’s break it down using their own words:
- Funding for [education reform initiatives] is not always targeted to improve student achievement and limited accountability data is available for many of these initiatives.
- Funding appropriated for the department’s keystone early literacy initiative, Reads to Lead, is not targeted to the state’s least proficient students, per-student allocations are not equitable across the state, and student performance data is erroneously reported.
- PED’s budget request indicates FY13 reading proficiency gains for Reads to Lead participants of more than twice the statewide proficiency gain of 2.8 percentage points; however, proficiency gains for students at participant school districts and charter schools were only 0.2 percentage points over the statewide gain.
LFC seems to be reporting that the PED department “erroneously reported” that their signature early education program – the one tied to all of those pictures of Gov. Martinez reading to children ‘criss-cross applesauce’ on the floor – was achieving miraculous results, when in fact they had achieved virtually no change.
If LFC is correct, the PED has over-inflated results 14X to show success when none, in fact, occurred.