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76% pass new evaluations for teachers

Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

About three-quarters of the teachers graded under New Mexico’s new evaluation system received passing scores compared to 99 percent under the old system, according to results released Thursday.

The data, generated for the first time by the controversial new evaluations, shows 76 percent of teachers were deemed “effective” or better.

The information covered 16,000 of the state’s 21,800 educators. The remainder were not included either because their districts missed a deadline for submitting evaluation materials or because they were not classroom teachers, such as librarians and instructional coaches, according to the PED.

map templateEducation Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera said the new system was needed because the old evaluations were flawed. They didn’t give insight into teacher performance, Skandera said, noting that over 99 percent of teachers were found effective under the old system.

Under the previous system, it was up to principals to evaluate teachers.

The new evaluations rely in large part on standardized test scores and on teacher observations, which are now based on more detailed standards.

Skandera said the new system is also better because it “differentiates” teachers into five tiers, ranging from exemplary to ineffective. Here’s how the ratings came in:

  • Exemplary: 1.5 percent.
  • Highly effective: 20.4 percent.
  • Effective: 54.1 percent.
  • Minimally effective, 20.7 percent.
  • Ineffective: 3.4 percent.

The state late Thursday afternoon sent districts their teachers’ individual scores, but districts have not yet had time to analyze the raw data. PED said it had no plans for make the individual scores public.

Districts are required to put teachers rated ineffective or minimally effective on a “professional growth plan,” but local officials retain control over firing decisions.

Skandera said of the system, “I think this is a really rich picture of what’s going on in our classrooms.”

Critics of the system disagree.

Teacher unions and some local school officials have blasted the evaluations, saying they rely too heavily on student standardized test data, among other criticisms.

“Of course we don’t believe the 76 percent figure is accurate,” said Stephanie Ly, president of AFT New Mexico. “It’s the same old story. The system is flawed.”

Ly said the percentage of effective teachers in the state is higher.

Skandera has said a strength of the evaluations is that 50 percent of scores are based on how a teacher contributes to student achievement, measured by progress on standardized test scores. Forty percent is based on classroom observations, and the remaining 10 percent is derived from multiple measures.

Critics doubt the accuracy of the complex statistical models – known as value-added models – used to demonstrate student growth.

“For the most part, the concern is not with the added observation part of teacher evaluation, but with the arbitrary and inconsistent capability to apply a valid Value Added Model result based on student test scores,” David Peercy, a board member for Albuquerque Public Schools, said in an email to the Journal. “Teachers feel they are or will be evaluated on content that is not within their control to affect.”

The data presented by the PED is broken down into results based solely on student achievement data and based solely on observation results.

When looking at student achievement results, about 79 percent of teachers were found effective or better. Considering only observation results, nearly 87 percent of teachers were found effective or better.