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PED releases teacher prep program grades

On Friday, the state Public Education Department publicly released grades for teacher preparation programs at colleges and universities across New Mexico. All 13 educator preparation programs graded got Bs or Cs.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The state Public Education Department has released grades for teacher preparation programs at colleges and universities across New Mexico. None earned an A.

All 13 educator preparation programs graded got B’s or C’s. The grades calculated through criteria such as diversity of applicants, if graduates can get jobs in the state and how well those who finish programs do on the state teacher evaluation system.

The University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and Central New Mexico Community College each got a B.

UNM College of Education Dean Salvador Hector Ochoa didn’t answer specific questions about its grade but said the college pledges to work with PED on the assessment and sees the need for accountability.

In a statement, Catron Allred, CNM Academic Affairs Director, said CNM will review the scorecard metrics “as we continue to seek ways to improve.”

This is the first time PED has graded the programs since the rule went into effect July 1.

Under the rule, if a teacher prep program gets an F or ranks low in its site visit, it will be put on probation for two years. If a prep program fails to come off probation, PED can deny licenses to graduates of that program.

The grading system has garnered a lot of pushback.

Educators have said the scorecard grades things outside of the school’s control such as how diverse a pool of applicants is or whether the student stays in the state after finishing the program. Attorney General Hector Balderas also had sent a letter to PED reiterating concerns from leaders of education prep programs and telling PED to take pause in the rule-making process.

The state agency has assured grading educator prep programs will help ensure new teachers are ready the first day of school.

“Teaching excellence should be honed from the day an aspiring teacher steps into formal training, so that incoming teachers are ready to serve their students on Day One,” Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski said in a statement. “Just like we expect a medical professional or a pilot to have the best training because they hold lives in their hands, we expect the best training for our teachers because they hold the lives of our children in their hands.”

PED says the scorecards draw on national best practices and will be used for both future teachers to pick a program and districts when hiring.

The scorecards come at a time when New Mexico is facing a teacher shortage and fewer students are finishing educator prep programs. As of the first of October, New Mexico had 740 teacher vacancies, according to a New Mexico State University report.

And program completion is falling. For example, from 2010 to 2017, UNM saw a 42 percent decrease in students finishing their educator preparation programs, from 434 to 251. This year, that number dropped again to 203 students finishing the program.

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