ALBUQUERQUE (AP) – The number of New Mexico’s teachers rated “effective” or better dropped slightly this year under a much-debated evaluation system, according to new numbers released Monday by the state’s Public Education Department.
The agency said nearly 74 percent of New Mexico’s teachers rated “effective” or better based on the two-year-old evaluation system that takes into account student achievement. That was a four percent drop from last year’s evaluation and largely came from a nine-point decrease in the number of educators graded just “effective.”
However, 24 percent were graded “highly effective” and around 2.5 percent were rated “exemplary” – both small jumps from 2014.
Skandera told The Associated Press the report is a “game changer” since it utilized data like teacher attendance and surveys, although districts can decide how that information is used.
“What we are seeing is a lot more accuracy,” Skandera said. “We are getting better and better about what’s happening in our schools.”
About 26 percent of teachers were graded “minimally effective” or “ineffective,” according to the numbers.
Under the system, district and charter schools develop their own evaluation plans but must use student achievement to count for 50 percent of evaluations if a teacher has three-year’s worth of student data on growth. After factoring classroom observation, districts can use surveys or attendance in plans.
The use of attendance has drawn scrutiny from teachers unions since some districts were counting family and medical leave against teachers. Skandera said that was an incorrect use of attendance and state officials asked those districts to change those plans.
Earlier this year, a state appeals court refused to block New Mexico’s teacher evaluation system amid criticism. Opponents were angry that Skandera adopted the changes through administrative changes rather than new legislation.
Another challenge is still pending in an appeals court.
Betty Patterson, president of the National Education Association-New Mexico, said despite disagreements the new teacher evaluation system is likely here to stay. “I think we are just going to have to learn to live with it,” Patterson said. “But I still don’t think that it’s accurate.”
Patterson said teachers still have problems with the use of student testing as a measurement and the reports don’t outline how educators can improvement.
However, Skandera said the five-page evaluation to teachers shows strengths and weaknesses so districts can determine whether to get teachers more training or move them to classes where they excel.
“There are some folks who just don’t want change or don’t want a level of transparency that I think this brings,” Skandera said. “But I think this year we will have made great strides toward communication.”