In response to previous editorials posted in local newspaper outlets over the last few months, which have taken a somewhat dim view of our work, the N.M. Public Education Department Teacher Evaluation Task Force would like to clarify our purpose.
First and foremost, NM educators do want to be evaluated through a system that supports their growth and student success while recognizing the complex nature of what “effective” teaching and learning looks, sounds and feels like. The system must be accurate, fair, grounded in research and should provide actionable and relevant feedback upon which educators can improve their professional capacity.
Needless to say, this process cannot solely be based upon student test scores, as some have asserted.
With political/administrative change also comes policy and procedural change and recent history in New Mexico has not gleaned a teacher evaluation system that has generated trust in its educators, values their dedication to their profession, or that provides useful feedback. Hence, lawmakers and legislators are taking notice, due in large part to recent judicial decisions from New Mexico courts, namely the landmark Yazzie/Martinez ruling.
Additionally, our governor, in her first days in office, demonstrated her commitment to educational excellence by creating this task force of 46 professionals in the field of education from all corners of our great state and from all levels of experience and perspectives.
The efforts of this task force are focused on developing a teacher evaluation system that is built upon collaboration, teacher strengths and abilities, and (that) challenges educators and those who supervise them toward rigor and continuous growth/development – all directed at providing a quality education system that benefits all of New Mexico’s learners.
It is the goal of this group to provide a system (that) gives teachers and other practitioners their voice, the information and explicit feedback they need – in a fashion that validates their hard work and dedication – and also identifies areas that need to be improved upon.
Already, for those of us participating on the task force, the development of our future teacher evaluation system felt different and certainly represented a better approach to such a complex topic. This task force is researching and discussing current best practices within New Mexico as well as those from a national perspective, drawing from an immense collective knowledge and pool of professional resources.
We are intentionally connecting the new teacher evaluation process to New Mexico’s existing requirements. However, we are not limiting ourselves to only what currently exists, but to what could exist based upon the wisdom of rulings such as Yazzie/Martinez, the guidance therein and the collective understanding that whatever form this process takes, that it effectively serves the needs of teachers, practitioners, and most importantly, all of New Mexico’s students.
The task force also intends to ensure that the process provides students with a meaningful opportunity to provide input on their educational experiences in order to maximize the information provided to teachers and practitioners so that they can effectively and willingly grow their craft, develop their skills and feel proud of the work that they do on a daily basis to provide the quality education that New Mexico students deserve.
To be clear, the work of this task force is ongoing, and while an end process or product has yet to be solidified, the NMPED is leading and engaging all stakeholders in this significant endeavor which must be transparent and understood to be fluid and collaborative. We appreciate and thank Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the NMPED for trusting New Mexico educators to play such an integral role in this process and in such an important way. We look forward to this continuing work at serving all New Mexico learners and educators.