The Gadsden Independent School District (GISD) occupies 1400 square miles of the Rio Grande Valley bordering Texas and Mexico, educating approximately 14,200 students (preschool through 12th grade) from southern Doña Ana and Otero Counties. Encompassing a largely Hispanic, agricultural community, GISD has experienced unique tensions as the neighboring cities of Las Cruces, NM and El Paso, TX exert new social, economic, and educational demands upon the population and its students. Families within GISD value a strong education with emphasis on mathematics and technology, yet wish to retain the rural flavor, culture, and tradition of their environment.
GISD Student Population
The GISD student population is made up of both descendents of early immigrants, including many Anglo ranchers, and a significant number of first and second generation Mexican-American immigrants. Today’s population remains predominantly Hispanic-American.
Students commonly speak both Spanish and English in their schools and community. Over 47% of GISD students originate from homes where English is not a first language, and are thus identified as “English Language Learners.” Many of the residents and school staff are bilingual, and several dual language Spanish-English schools exist in the district. Approximately 96% of the student population is Hispanic, 4% Anglo, with African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American populations each comprising under 1%.
A state survey in 1999 found that only 13% of 4th grade, GISD students were considered “proficient” or “advanced” in mathematics as compared to 33% statewide. Similarly, only 4% of GISD students in the 8th grade retained proficient or advanced scores compared to 23% statewide.
Other Student Demographics
(2006-2007 Data from Core Partner Districts and STARS/PED)
- Enrolled K-12: 13,898
- Ages 4-17 Living in Poverty: 5837 (42%)
- English Language Learners: 7373 (53%)
- Free/Reduced Lunch Program: 100%
Impact of the Gadsden Mathematics Initiative (GMI)
In May of 2000, the Gadsden School District was considered one of the lowest achieving school districts in the state of New Mexico. GMI focused on developing the capacity of teachers and principals, implementing a curriculum aligned with state and district standards, developing and instituting campus level support for teachers, engaging administrators in the process of school reform, and involving parents and the community to support educational expectations in mathematics at home and school. Today, GISD student academic proficiency is on the rise. The achievement gap between Gadsden students and the rest of the state has closed significantly despite gains in the state overall. GISD, once considered among the lowest performing school districts, has become the most improved district in the state. Other school districts and state leaders in mathematics education now look to Gadsden as a model for positive reform.
See also: District Report Cards