Skip to Content

### Can Implementing a Compulsory 180-Day Classroom Requirement Improve New Mexico’s Education Ranking?

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a new regulation has been introduced requiring school calendars to include a minimum of 180 days of instruction. State officials emphasize that this measure aims to enhance students’ classroom learning time and elevate academic performance.

Secretary of Public Education, Arsenio Romero, highlighted this initiative as part of a broader strategy to elevate New Mexico’s standing in national education rankings. The state is focusing on various interventions such as structured literacy programs for younger students, vocational education opportunities, internships for older students, and summer programs to support academic progress.

Acknowledging New Mexico’s historical underperformance in education, Romero expressed determination to instigate positive change, stating, “This is about doing what’s best for our children, even when faced with challenges.”

The proposal for a 180-day school year faced opposition from teacher unions and Republican lawmakers concerned about potential drawbacks, including loss of local control for districts and increased workloads for teachers. Criticisms particularly centered on the impact on districts, especially rural ones, that have adopted four-day school weeks.

Responding to feedback and debates, Romero emphasized that the finalized rule incorporates flexibility, allowing for four-day weeks provided there is evidence of academic improvement. However, meeting academic standards may pose a challenge for many schools based on the results of recent standardized tests, which revealed low proficiency rates in reading and math.

Following legislative changes in 2023 that raised the required instructional hours for students, some districts had to adjust their schedules to comply. Despite concerns raised by Republican leaders about the 180-day mandate potentially burdening districts and undermining the legislative intent, the rule is set to be enforced starting the upcoming academic year.

Senator Crystal Brantley, representing rural areas in southern New Mexico, expressed surprise at the rule’s adoption despite widespread opposition from various stakeholders. She emphasized the importance of local decision-making in educational matters and pledged to continue advocating for the autonomy of school boards and administrators.

The Public Education Department confirmed that the new rule will take effect from the forthcoming school year, aiming to drive positive educational outcomes in New Mexico.