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Revised evals show 72.7% of NM teachers rated ‘effective’

Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

On final count, 72.7 percent of New Mexico’s teachers were rated “effective” or better on the state’s new evaluation system, according to information released by the Public Education Department on Friday.

That is a little lower than the percentage of teachers who were rated as effective this spring – 76 percent – when evaluations were first released and before flawed evaluations were corrected. Also, the initial figure included only 16,000 of the state’s 21,800 educators, because not all districts had reported necessary data to the state.

The new evals brought good news to Albuquerque Public Schools, which employs about 6,300 teachers. In the state’s largest district, 82.2 percent teachers were rated effective or better, according to PED. The earlier APS figures, before the corrected evaluations, had 78.4 percent of APS teachers rated effective or better.

However, in Santa Fe, fewer than half of the teachers were rated effective or better – ratings that Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Joel Boyd said were clearly wrong.

“I’m convinced that this data is inaccurate and will be adjusted significantly after our analysis and conversations with PED,” he said.

evalsPED spokesman Larry Behrens said later: “Even though Santa Fe Public Schools did not submit any evaluation data until well over a month past the deadline, we have continually worked to ensure accuracy. We are happy to discuss any concerns with Superintendent Boyd.” SFPS blamed the data delay on a technical glitch.

The new statewide figure includes all teachers and the corrected evaluations, said Behrens.

“What these statewide results show, in part, is that hundreds of teachers deserve recognition for excellence they would have never received under the previous system, which U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan labeled simply as ‘broken,’ ” said Matt Montano, PED director of educator quality.

Under the new evaluation system, teachers are rated “ineffective,” “minimally effective,” “effective,” “highly effective” or “exemplary.”

Behrens said corrected evaluations are now available to districts and that superintendents were notified.

APS spokeswoman Johanna King said that, as of Friday afternoon, district staff had not seen the corrected evaluations.

“We can’t comment, because we haven’t seen the scores,” she said. She did not know when the teachers would get them.

PED did not have Rio Rancho data immediately available. Kim Vesely, spokeswoman for Rio Rancho Public Schools, said the district had not yet seen the corrected evaluations, so it could not provide any information. She said that, once it does, officials will need time to verify the corrected information before releasing it to the public.

Since PED distributed the 2013-14 teacher evaluations during the last week of school, it had been working with local school district officials to correct a variety of mistakes found by teachers and their principals. Those included evaluations based on incomplete or wrong test data, evaluations with missing student survey data and teachers being docked for absences that should have been excused, among other mistakes.

Behrens said he didn’t know how many total evaluations had to be corrected.

“We know about 40 districts submitted varying amounts of corrected data, in some cases no more than a handful of new information,” Behrens said in an email.

PED has said 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.

The evaluations have been controversial. Critics have said they doubt the accuracy of the complex statistical models – known as value-added models – used to demonstrate student growth and rate teachers.

Meanwhile, in Santa Fe, superintendent Boyd pointed out that students showed modest improvements in proficiency in both reading and math. “It doesn’t seem to align with what we know to be true about student learning gains,” Boyd said.

Santa Fe’s teacher evaluation formula is different from the one used by most school districts in the state. While student achievement, measured by test scores, counts for 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation elsewhere, in Santa Fe, the test scores count for 35 percent.

Boyd, who received the data from PED late Friday afternoon and hadn’t had time to fully analyze it, suspects one problem could be with attendance numbers.

For instance, 131 of more than 800 teachers in the district had their scores lowered for attendance. While teacher attendance is part of the rubric used to evaluate teachers in most districts, it does not factor in the evaluation of teachers in Santa Fe.

Boyd said it seemed there were other data points that appear to be missing.

The figures for Santa Fe showed 50.5 percent were “minimally effective” or “ineffective.”

Journal reporter T.S. Last contributed to this story.