P.E.D. Releases Results of Teacher Evaluations for 2016
By Ariel Carmona Jr.
Santa Fe – The New Mexico Public Education Department released the results of the 2016 teacher evaluation Friday and introduced some changes to the system to create greater statewide uniformity in its implementation, but even with the changes, some in the education community are still not happy with the assessment.
Representatives of the unions representing state teachers believe the Department should not be evaluating teachers in the first place, but state officials defended the evaluation system as a valid benchmark of pedagogical effectiveness.
This marks the third year of NMTEACH and education officials said New Mexico continues to make progress and now has more highly effective and exemplary teachers than ever before.
“We all know teachers are the most important factor for our kids in the classrooms,” Public Education Department (P.E.D.) Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera, said during a news conference with reporters and Department officials Sept.16.
“Every single one of our students deserves the best teacher possible. We know also that every profession is evaluated, and public education is no different.”
Skandera said NMTEACH scores are based on a combination of student improvement, classroom observations, teacher attendance and surveys.
In Jan. 2016, P.E.D. modified the NMTEACH system. Key changes include:
-A simplified system in which the evaluation includes data from this past year, as well as data from the previous two years of improved student achievement.
-The elimination of all assessments except for Standards Based Assessment (SBA), P.A.R.C.C. and other P.E.D. approved end of course exams.
-Teachers who incur three or fewer absences will not have any points deducted from that portion of their evaluation summaries.
“We know they have made some minor changes around the edges,” said National Education Association of New Mexico spokesperson Charles Goodmacher, “but the core of the system is the same.”
Goodmacher said the system of evaluating teachers is seriously flawed because it does not take into account critically important factors such as students’ character development, how they work together in teams, or how well students get along with their teachers.
“It’s still based on the results of standardized student testing,” he said. Despite state official’s asserting there is no link between the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (P.A.R.C.C.) results and a teacher’s individual evaluation, Goodmacher said there is a direct correlation because 35 percent of the whole 100 percent of an evaluation is based on P.A.R.C.C. results.
“That’s really high compared to other states,” he said.
P.E.D officials rebuked the criticism by pointing out that student achievement is worth 50 percent only if a teacher has three years’ worth of student data available. If not, state officials said the student achievement portion is weighted less and redistributed to the observation portion of the evaluation.
According to documentation made available by the Department, NMTEACH ratings are assigned based on five effectiveness levels: exemplary, highly effective, effective, minimally effective, and ineffective.
Statewide ratings results show that the number of ineffective teachers increased to 5.4 percent from 2.2 percent in 2014 and increases in the minimally effective category also increased to 23.3 from 19.5 percent in the more than 21,000 teachers evaluated.
P.E.D. officials urged districts to use the data as a tool to determine teachers’ strengths and weaknesses and to take advantage of state sponsored mentoring programs for educators.
“Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera released the ‘2016 Teacher Evaluation Results,’ and once again, has done a disservice to our schools and students in New Mexico,” American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stepanie Ly said in a prepared statement.
Ly said by releasing scores riddled with incomplete or incorrect data, Skandera continued the injurious practice of basing educator score on standardized testing like the P.A.R.C.C. exam.
“Today’s scores are meaningless for educators, and provide no real feedback or useful methods for improvement,” Ly wrote. “Already score discrepancies are being found by district superintendents from across the state.”