Test Scores Better at Mexico's Public Schools, But Still Room for Improvement
Circe Vargon - Rumbo de Mexico
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August 30, 2012

Children attend class at the elementary school in La Chiripa, Nayarit state. Experts say that unless Mexico improves its  education system, its climb up the economic ladder will stall. (Marcelo A. Salinas/MCT)

MEXICO CITY – Public Education Secretary José Ángel Córdova Villalobos said on Wednesday that while officials have seen improvements in elementary and high school ENLACE test results, the public education system still faces challenges in improving Spanish and reading comprehension scores across all grade levels.

During the presentation of ENLACE test results in 2012, the seventh year the standardized test has been applied to public and private school students throughout the nation, Córdova Villalobos said that the “biggest increase was found in public elementary schools, with 20.8 percentage points. Indigenous boys, girls and adolescents also improved from 4.1 percent scoring either ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ in 2006 to 21.6 percent in 2012. Conafe (The National Council for Education Development) students went from 6.9 percent receiving ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ to 13.1 percent in 2012.”

On the mathematics portion of the exam, elementary school students receiving either “good” or “excellent” increased from 17.6 percent in 2006 to 44.3 percent in 2012, an increase of 26.7 percent, which amounts to almost 3.6 million students.

While improvements in middle school were not as pronounced as in elementary school, students receiving either “good” or “excellent” on the math portion of the exam went from 4.2 percent in 2006 to 20.7 percent, easily passing the goal of 11.6 percent set by President Calderón.

Results from the middle school Spanish portion of the ENLACE show a historic increase of 6 percentage points, going from 14.7 percent of students scoring in the “good” or “excellent” range in 2006 to 20.7 percent in 2012, only 1.72 percentage points short of the presidential goal of 22.42.

While all educational institutions, public or private, showed historic annual improvements, “Telesecundaria” schools, which employ a form of technology-based distance learning, improved the most, with a 26 point jump from 2006, quickly closing the gap on private schools.

High school students, who have only been subject to the test since 2008, did not fare as well as elementary and middle school students.

“Thanks to the dedication of all educational institutions, state governments, 13,189 baccalaureate students and more than 965,000 high school seniors, we saw increases of 3.4 percent (in baccalaureate students) and 5.7 percent (in high school seniors),” Córdova Villalobos said.

Compared to test results from 2008, students from federal high schools showed an increase of 3.7 percentage points in those students scoring “good” or “excellent” in reading comprehension, the biggest increase of any public school system, including centralized and decentralized state schools, autonomous university baccalaureate programs and private schools.

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