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Editorial: Eval decision rightly put in the principal’s hands

Among concerns raised about the state’s new public school teacher evaluation system is the effect it could have on a teacher’s future income and chosen career.

But even for teachers who received needs improvement ratings on their evaluations, there is a way to continue climbing the pay ladder. And it appropriately involves the judgment of the teacher’s closest supervisor – the principal.

Receiving one of the two lowest ratings on an evaluation could affect a teacher’s ability to advance on New Mexico’s three-tiered licensure system, which is used to set teachers’ base pay – $32,000 for Tier 1, $40,000 for Tier 2 and $50,000 for Tier 3. Teachers must reach the second tier by their fifth year to have their contracts renewed.

But teachers who receive one of the lower ratings can still ask the principal for a “do-pass” recommendation, which would allow continued licensure progress. The principal would base the decision on whether that teacher has improved since the last evaluation.

This makes sense, as the principal under the new system spends more time observing in the classroom and should know whether the reasons for the low ranking are being addressed – or were truly warranted to begin with – and whether the children being entrusted to the teacher are advancing.


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Assuming the bugs in the recent first run of evaluations get worked out, this needed reform intended to tie teacher evals to student growth clearly isn’t the draconian bogeyman many feared. It does provide improvement plans for those who need them – as well as a reasonable way to move forward if they make progress.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.