Three in four New Mexico teachers are considered effective at their job according to the state's most recent evaluations.
Teachers' effectiveness is based on several parameters including student achievement in tests, teacher attendance and classroom observations. A teacher's performance can be rated as ineffective, minimally effective, effective, highly effective, and exemplary.
The Public Education Department (PED) New Mexico said in a press release that:
"Data shows dramatic improvement in teacher attendance year-over-year," and that "compared to last year, there is an increase of over 700 teachers in the "highly effective" category, and over 200 additional teachers in the "exemplary" category.
For New Mexico educators, 24% were rated as highly effective, a 3 percentage points increase from last year. Also, 2.5% were rated as exemplary as opposed to 1.5% being rated exemplary last year.
In 2014, when the NMTEACH evaluation system was first introduced, the percentage of teachers rated effective or better was 78.2% in contrast to 74% this year.
Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera says the evaluation offers a âricher picture' that can help students become better at their job no matter their present rating. The PED New Mexico secretary says that the dip in the percentage of teachers rated effective is of no concern as the program's raison d'etre is to identify teachers that need help becoming more efficient at their job.
The overhauled evaluation system, which has been running for its second year, has attracted criticism and legal action mostly from unhappy unions and teachers who insist that students' test scores should not account for half their rating as the formula is not an accurate presentation of teachers' efforts.
"Every educator knows there will be many [who are] marked poorly as a result not of their own work and true contributions to student learning, but rather on the basis of a seriously flawed and ill-conceived evaluation system," president of the National Education Association of New Mexico, Betty Patterson said, according to Santa Fe New Mexican.
The controversial evaluation system has led to several lawsuits from the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico and the National Education Association New Mexico.
Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein says the evaluation system is "crazy" and is pushing many teachers away as they receive unjust evaluations that do not reflect their actual contributions.
Last year, evaluation mistakes in many teachers' ratings caused controversy. Skandera says there will always be people that will challenge the evaluation system and that she is looking into ways her mission is to help low-rated teachers become better, possibly through a teacher mentor program in which top-rated teachers will help those that can improve their performance, Kirsten Swanson reporting for KOAT writes.
The evaluation system was introduced by departmental rule by the PED secretary Hanna Skandera after the state of New Mexico declined the proposal. The 2014-2015 statewide evaluation concerns 20,500 teachers.