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Corrected teacher evaluations due before school starts

Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

Hundreds of teachers across the state who received flawed evaluations in May can expect to receive a corrected rating before school starts in mid-August.

The Public Education Department plans to release corrected teacher evaluations by the end of this month, spokesman Larry Behrens said.

Since the department distributed the 2013-14 teacher evaluations, it has been working with local school district officials to correct a variety of mistakes found by teachers and their principals.

“We continue to work with districts to make sure accurate data is used. We believe all districts should have final information in a couple of weeks,” Behrens said in an email to the Journal.

Hanna Skandera, education secretary-designate, has said the errors were caused by bad data reported by districts. The districts submitted new data, and the state is rechecking the evaluations.

Corrected evaluations will be released to all school districts at the same time, and districts will be responsible for distributing them to principals and teachers, Behrens said.

This is the first year for the state’s new evaluation system, under which teachers are scored based on student standardized test scores, principal observations and, to a lesser degree, other factors like teacher attendance or student surveys.

The Rio Rancho district has estimated that up to 50 percent of its teacher evaluations could contain some type of error or problem. Albuquerque Public Schools does not have such a tally, said spokesman Rigo Chavez, but teachers and principals have come forward citing problems.

In the Truth or Consequences district, about 40 percent of teachers had problems, while the figure was about 25 percent for the Los Alamos and Moriarty-Edgewood districts.

Some districts, though, reported few errors.

Richard Bowman, chief accountability and strategy officer for Santa Fe Public Schools, said in an email Friday that the district had few problems and what issues they had were promptly corrected. SFPS’ numbers weren’t included in the original statewide data due to a technical glitch, but he said the district is working with PED to ensure data quality.

In Roswell, only about 4 percent of teachers had problems reported errors. In Jemez Valley Public Schools, it was only a handful. Las Cruces officials have said the problems were not widespread, but they decided against giving teachers their evaluations until all had been corrected.

Among the errors found, according to principals and superintendents, were that some teachers were:

• Rated on incomplete or incorrect test data. For example, some veteran teachers at one Albuquerque elementary school were not graded at all on student achievement scores from standardized tests, while others were.

• Docked for being absent more days than they were actually gone from school, and some appeared to be marked down for days when their absences should have been excused.

• Missing data from student surveys.

• Rated poorly on the student achievement portion of the evaluation, even when their students had made clear progress on tests.

While PED says the problems were due to incomplete or incorrect data provided by the districts, some superintendents have said they doubt districts alone were responsible for all of the errors.

The PED started the new system because previously, 99 percent of teachers were considered effective and there was little accountability. Under the new method, 76 percent of teachers scored were “effective” or better – although that figure could change when corrections are finalized.

Teachers who score “ineffective” or “minimally effective” will be subject to a professional growth plan.

Those teachers will also need to earn an “effective” or better before they are allowed to submit a dossier required to move up a level in the state’s three-tiered teacher licensure system or their principal must write a recommendation on their behalf saying they’ve made improvements.

Teachers earn more as they move up the tiers.

Journal staff writer T.S. Last contributed to this story.


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