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Public Education Department targets data errors

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Public Education Department has assigned 11 liaisons to work with New Mexico’s 89 school districts and 95 charter schools in an effort to ensure data submitted for teacher evaluations is accurate, according to the department.

And next school year, the PED will ask teachers to double-check their classroom rosters to ensure their accuracy for use in teacher evaluations.

Those were among the measures taken by the department to shore up data errors that plagued the state’s new teacher evaluation system, Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera told the Legislative Education Study earlier this week.

Last spring, there were hundreds of teachers – perhaps more – who received faulty evaluations. Skandera has said errors were caused by faulty data that districts gave to the PED.

The liaisons assigned to work with districts are current PED employees, said Matt Montaño, the PED’s director of educator quality. He said the liaisons are helping in weekly communication with districts.

“It’s an ongoing process,” Montaño said.

State Sen. John Sapien, D-Corrales, who chairs the LESC, questioned whether 11 liaisons would be enough.

“I think those 11 will be overworked,” he said.

Meanwhile, the PED is working to create a database of class rosters so teachers can review those lists beginning next year, Montaño said.

Students often change schools or classrooms during the school year, which can lead to confusion about what class a student is assigned to for teacher evaluation purposes, he said.

The roster verification will help ensure student test scores are tied to the correct teacher, Montaño said.

“I think the benefit of this is teachers get to see the students going into their data set,” Montaño told the Journal . He said he doesn’t expect the roster verification will take teachers long to complete.

Sapien said that while he “applauded” the efforts by PED to improve the process by which districts submit data to the state for teacher evaluations, big-picture questions remain about whether the evaluations accurately rate teachers.

He and other critics of the evaluation system question the accuracy of value-added models, which use three years of test scores to calculate a student achievement score for teachers. The student achievement score makes up 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluations.