NM has more high-performing teachers over last year

Christopher Ruszkowski.

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Slightly more New Mexico public school teachers in the 2017-18 school year were ranked highly effective or exemplary – the two highest ratings – compared to the previous year, according to New Mexico Public Education Department data.

The 2017-18 school year data, officially released today, shows that 5.7 percent of teachers in the state were rated exemplary – translating to 1,163 teachers earning the highest rating out of about 20,000 teachers who were evaluated.

This fall, each of those 1,163 teachers will receive awards worth thousands of dollars – money set aside by the Legislature – if they are still teaching in New Mexico.

The Excellence in Teaching Awards – $10,000 for exemplary math and science teachers and $5,000 for other exemplary teachers in the 2017-18 school year – were included in the budget Gov. Susana Martinez signed earlier this year. It contained a $5 million allotment for the rewards, part of an effort to keep high-performing teachers in the profession and in New Mexico.

PED Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski said that if the total cost for the Excellence in Teaching Awards exceeds $5 million, then he will “do whatever it takes” to make sure each of the state’s exemplary teachers is rewarded as planned.

Both exemplary and highly effective ratings are just about a percentage point above where they were last year. However, the exemplary rating is 4.2 points above where it was in 2014, and the highly effective rating is 8.3 points above its 2014 mark.

Statewide, 28.5 percent of New Mexico’s teachers were rated highly effective in the 2017-18 school year.

“Since 2015, New Mexico schools have over 1,000 more highly effective and exemplary teachers and nearly 1,000 fewer minimally effective and ineffective teachers,” the PED report said.

This year’s data show that 75.6 percent of New Mexico’s teachers were rated as effective or higher, the top three categories out of five. Last year, 74.3 percent of teachers reached those levels.

For Albuquerque Public Schools, exemplary teacher ratings were stagnant at 3.64 percent for 2017-18, compared with 3.65 percent for the previous year. And highly effective ratings fell slightly from 26 percent to 25.42 percent.

In total, 72.93 percent of all APS teachers were rated as effective or higher. The statewide figure is 75.6 percent.

At Rio Rancho Public Schools, exemplary teachers make up about 8 percent of its teaching staff. And the district had less than 1 percent rated as ineffective.

A total of 88.12 percent of all Rio Rancho teachers were rated as effective or higher.

At Santa Fe Public Schools, the percentage of exemplary teachers went down roughly a percentage point from last year to 3.86 percent this year.

Overall, Santa Fe had 71.07 percent of teachers rated as effective or above.

PED advised districts and their superintendents not to talk to the media about the data until this evening, according to spokeswoman Lida Alikhani.

The evaluations’ five-year history has been marked with controversy. It has been subject to teacher union lawsuits and protests where educators burned their evaluations.

The system uses five tiers to rate teachers – exemplary, highly effective, effective, minimally effective and ineffective.

Teacher evaluations are determined by:

• 40 percent classroom observations, conducted typically by a principal or assistant principal.

• 35 percent student academic growth, measured by statewide assessments, including PARCC.

• 15 percent teacher planning and professional development.

• 5 percent student and parent surveys.

• 5 percent attendance.

PED has produced teacher evaluation reports since 2014. In early 2017, PED revamped its teacher evaluation system, reducing the weight of student test results from up to 50 percent to 35 percent and doubling the number of sick days available to be taken by a teacher without penalty.