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Tests and Examinations

Standards for District Testing and Assessment for Regular Education

Mandated Tests

The Director of Research, Development and Accountability (RDA) will ensure that all tests and evaluation procedures mandated by the U.S. Department of Education and the New Mexico State Department of Education are implemented at the prescribed times.

Test Security

  1. It is the principal’s responsibility to provide a secure location in which to store test materials that are to remain at the school site.
  2. Only school personnel with a legitimate need should have access to test materials.
  3. Test items and/or booklets may not be copied or paraphrased for any reason without permission of the district and the publisher. Test items and/or booklets may not be used for review prior to testing or for instruction following testing.
  4. Each school must develop an organized distribution process so that all test materials, used and unused, are accounted for and returned to the APS RDA Testing Services Center. Under no circumstances should school personnel destroy or dispose of answer documents considered invalid or "messed up" by students.
  5. Any breach of testing security, violation of Standardized administration, loss of materials, and/or failure to account for materials must be reported immediately to the principals and to RDA.
  6. RDA Staff will advise principals/Assistant Superintendent regarding the necessary actions that must occur due to any breach of security or standardization. In the event that disciplinary action is required, the employee’s supervisor is responsible for following HRD procedures to implement the disciplinary action.

Test Administration

  1. Students and parents should be notified prior to test administration and informed of the purposes of the test and the intended use of results.
  2. Test preparation which familiarizes students with test-taking strategies and typical item types is desirable and can legitimately enhance student performance. Optional test preparation materials are provided by RDA, and publisher-developed test preparation materials may be purchased by schools. The best preparation for tests is classroom instruction. The curriculum should not be taught for the sole purpose of raising test scores. Coaching students using actual test materials and/or slight modification of those materials is not permitted.
  3. School personnel should ensure that the test environment is well-lighted, reasonably quiet, and comfortable. Where possible, students should remain in classroom groups with their teacher for testing.
  4. School personnel responsible for test administration of standardized tests must rigorously follow the specific administrative procedures established by the test publisher. Test administration responsibilities include establishing a positive, comfortable, non-threatening environment which supports the best performance of each student; reading all directions without modification; and adhering strictly to timelines. Teaching items on the test, stopping in the middle of the test to teach materials covered on the test, and providing verbal or non-verbal clues is not permitted. School personnel administering tests must not read passages to students which students are expected to read silently.
  5. Each school should plan sufficient time for make-up testing within the time frame designated for each test. School personnel are responsible to check each answer document to ensure student’s name, number, location, grade level, etc., are complete and to be sure all answers are dark. The test representative, the principal, or designated staff member should return test materials to the RDA Testing Services Center by specified deadlines.

Interpreting Results

  1. School personnel should provide an opportunity for students and their parents or guardian(s) to receive information explaining the meaning of test results.
  2. Principals are responsible to ensure that test scores alone not be used for consequential decisions on a student’s education, for example in placement or referral. Test scores for individuals are best presented as approximations not absolutes. While school personnel and parents can gain valuable information about an individual student’s learning strengths and needs, the most appropriate use of standardized test results is to determine group strengths and needs for instructional planning.
  3. Test results should not be used in the formal evaluations of teachers or principals.

Test Selection (School or District Level)

The following steps are guidelines for test selection.

  1. Define the population to be tested and the purpose of testing. Select a test for that population and purpose. The selection process should include a careful review of test specimen sets, disclosed tests or samples of test items, directions, manuals, answer sheets, score reports, and technical information. 
  2. Read all materials provided by test publishers and corroborate impressions with independent test reviews when possible. Avoid selecting tests for which unclear or incomplete information is provided.
    Become familiar with when and how the tests under consideration were developed, including the scope of content and the norm group to which comparisons can be made. Both the match between content
    measured by the test and the comparability of the norm group with the population to be tested are important selection criteria.
  3. Avoid tests with potential geographic, general, and ethnic bias, as well as insensitive language and/or content.

Test Development

RDA has the primary responsibility for test and/or assessment development for districtwide use. RDA will utilize the expertise of other APS personnel with backgrounds in the content and grade level to be measured. Any requests for test development should be submitted to RDA.

The following process will be used by RDA for test and/or assessment development:

  1. Select and train an assessment development team.
  2. Develop items - specifications based on curricular objectives.
  3. Develop an item bank from which items can be drawn.
  4. Pilot test items.
  5. Apply appropriate statistical procedures for both bias and goodness of fit.
  6. Field test items.
  7. Develop final test forms and item banks for inclusion in the District’s Comprehensive Assessment System.

The Comprehensive Assessment System is managed by RDA. Reducing the possibility of over testing students is a major management principle applied in considering both the retirement of existing district tests or the development of additional instruments.

Testing, Exemptions (State Mandated)

  1. State mandated tests are required to be given to students in the school district each year. The following are the only circumstances which may allow for students to be exempted from the statewide testing program.
  2. The extent of participation in state mandated testing for Special Education students must be documented on the IEP in accordance with New Mexico Education Standards for Special Education (Section B.2.10.2).
  3. All students exempted from state mandated tests must be provided an alternative assessment procedure. Classroom teachers are required to document through these alternative procedures, the exempted Students Progress/Status in each academic area covered by the mandated test.
  4. Students who are native speakers of a language other than English shall participate in state mandated testing. However, students whose English skills are nonfunctional and have been identified by a standardized measure of English proficience to meet exemption criteria as specified by the State Department of Education may be exempted from statewide testing upon recommendation of the classroom teacher and the principal. The parent or guardian of students must be notified of any exemption and parent permission for an exemption from state mandated testing must be obtained.

New Mexico High School Competency Examination (Exemptions and Waivers)


  1. In accordance with state standards, APS students who are either special education students or students with limited English proficiency may be considered on a case-by-case basis for an exemption from the NMHSCE. For special education students the IEP committee will make this determination; for limited English proficiency students, a committee made up of administration and staff from the school will make the determination.
  2. Exemptions are in force for one school year at a time or for as long as a special education student’s IEP is in force. Once a student has received an exemption, the facts of the case should be reviewed each year to determine whether the student is currently eligible to take the NMHSCE or if the exemption status should be continued. Exempted students SHOULD NOT take the NMHSCE. Only the exemptions of seniors must be approved by the New Mexico State Dept. of Education.
    1. The IEP committee will decide whether a student should take the NMHSCE during his/her 10th grade and 11th grade years. An IEP meeting will be held during the fall of each special education student’s 12th grade year, prior to the December senior administration, to make the final determination for exemption from the NMHSCE. 
    2. The Research, Development, and Accountability Department will set deadlines each year for submission of requests for exemption of 12th grade students from the NMHSCE. These requests must receive APS Board approval before submission to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for final approval.
    3. All requests for exemption should be 12th grade students only and must contain the following:
      1. Student I.D. number 
      2. Statement indicating that the request is based upon the student’s "completion of a planned course of study based on IEP objectives in lieu of required criteria for New Mexico high school diplomas" (ESNMSA.
  3. Principals are responsible for submitting the appropriate information regarding each student for whom an exemption is being requested. RDA is responsible for notifying principals of the information required. Once this information is reviewed by the Testing/Assessment Supervisor (RDA) the appropriate requests will be submitted to the State Superintendent of Instruction.
  4. Principals are responsible for informing the appropriate Assistant Superintendent of these exemption requests.
  5. Schools must keep on file all documentation and supporting evidence that the limited English proficient students who are exempted have mastered the exit competencies outlined in the Education Standards for New Mexico Schools. Evidence may include grades in class, documented teacher observations, results of teacher-made tests, or other appropriate documentation specified in the school plan.


  1. Waivers are requested of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction by the local district so that a student may be allowed to receive a diploma without meeting all graduation requirements. The written request for waiver must verify that it is in the student’s best interests.
  2. Waivers from the NMHSCE for seniors should also be submitted according to the procedures for exemptions.
  3. Waivers should be requested only for students with very special circumstances. All waiver requests should include the student’s ID number and reason for waiver. These requests for waiver must be approved by the State Superintendent.

Other Processes

  1. A high school may request that a diploma be awarded to a senior who has failed the NMHSCE if that student’s teachers believe he/she has mastered the exit competencies. These requests must follow the procedures for exemption.
  2. Schools must keep on file all documentation and supporting evidence that the student for whom a diploma has been requested has mastered the exit competencies outlined in the Educational Standards for New Mexico Schools. Evidence may include grades in class, documented teacher observations, result of teacher-made tests, or other appropriate documentation specified in the school plan.
  3. A student who does not pass the NMHSCE prior to graduation and has received no waiver is awarded a certificate of completion. If the student passes the exam after his/her class has graduated they are awarded a diploma with the next graduating class.

Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery

The school will inform parents concerning the nature and the purpose of the ASVAB and the date the test will be administered. Students must be advised that the ASVAB is voluntary. Testing will be given only by qualified, non-recruiting test administrator(s). Test results for each student will be delivered via APS personnel.

End-of-Semester Testing Schedule and Activities

  • A test/evaluation will be administered by all teachers in all classes and all subject areas. This test/evaluation will be administered on the final two days of each semester for all underclassmen (see example below). Exemptions in the testing schedule may be made by the principal with approval of the appropriate assistant superintendent.
    Day 1
    Morning: Period 2, Period 4
    Afternoon: Period 6
    Day 2
    Morning: Period 1, Period 3
    Afternoon: Period 5
  • The testing periods should consist of a minimum of one and one-half (1.5) hours each. This would allow ample time for testing and collecting textbooks and other school materials. Textbooks should remain with the student until after the tests are completed.
  • Students in 0-hour classes will be tested from 6:45 A.M. to 7:40 A.M. on both days.
  • All students are to remain in school in appropriate classroom activities until the testing period is over.
  • Dismissal will be at 2:30 P.M. on both testing days for both semesters. The test/evaluation activity will be graded and figured as part of the semester grade.
  • Extracurricular activities will end at 6:00 P.M. during "Testing Periods." Principals will determine dates of test week on an annual basis.

End-of-Semester Activities

  1. Parents will be notified in writing of failures with the recommendation that the student attend summer school (INS-76 Computer Services).
  2. Second semester report cards will be mailed home if students bring self-addressed, stamped envelopes. Students who fail to bring a self-addressed, stamped envelope may pick up their report cards at the school on a designated day.
  3. Locks on lockers are to be removed the final day of school, but a locker clean-out for all students may be scheduled at an earlier date.
  4. Libraries will remain open until the end of test week. However, circulation may be terminated before test week, as long as students have access to materials on a non-check-out basis.
  5. Textbooks are expected to be returned in good condition according to procedures at each school. Fines will be assessed for lost or damaged textbooks.

Cross Ref.:

Legal Ref.: Educational Standards for New Mexico Schools A.

NSBA/NEPN Classification: IKAA

Revised: May 1995
: April 1996
: May 1997
: June 2002