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Reform of Teacher Reviews Still Pushed

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Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera said Thursday that she will press on in her quest to overhaul New Mexico’s evaluation system for teachers and principals.

Specifically, she said she may seek to use an executive order or executive rule-making powers, after the Legislature failed to act on a bill that would have based teacher evaluations partly on student test scores.

“There are other ways that we can look at bringing an evaluation to bear that prioritizes improved student achievement,” Skandera said. “We can look at rule, executive order, and we will certainly be doing that.”

New Mexico will need to change its teacher evaluation system soon, or risk losing a waiver that releases the state from the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. The waiver, which was granted to New Mexico this week, will give the state more flexibility in how it uses federal education funding, and also means officials won’t have to calculate “Adequate Yearly Progress” this year. Instead, schools will be evaluated under the new A-F school grading system rolled out last month.

To receive waivers, states must demonstrate they are working toward reforming the way teachers are evaluated — specifically including students’ academic progress as part of the evaluations.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, New Mexico and other states that received waivers are “on the hook” for complying with the timelines of the waiver. That means developing state-level guidelines by this summer, negotiating district-level evaluations next year, piloting the system the following year and adopting the system statewide by the 2014-15 school year.

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