- Associated Press - Saturday, August 16, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A new evaluation system gave Santa Fe public school teachers a lower rating than they deserved, New Mexico’s top education official acknowledged Friday.

Education Secretary-Designate Hanna Skandera said initial ratings indicating that fewer than 50 percent of Santa Fe teachers were “effective” were inaccurate because of bad data, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported (http://bit.ly/1m5K7RB ).

Revised scores now show 67 percent of the teachers were rated effective or better. Rankings in several evaluation categories also went up, with 15 percent of teachers getting a “highly effective” ranking and 1 percent “exemplary.”

Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Joel Boyd previously said the new teacher evaluation results were wrong. Education department spokesman Larry Behrens responded last week, calling Boyd’s position “incorrect.”

Skandera met with Boyd on Friday and acknowledged there were mistakes. The Santa Fe district turned in required data for its evaluations a month after other districts. Also, some teachers received scores of zero in categories that should not have been included in their evaluations.

“In any new endeavor, you learn a lot,” said Skandera, who reinforced her support for the system. “We have to learn and improve.”

She said the education department will change the deadline for gathering data next year.

The new rankings appear more accurate, Boyd said.

The new evaluation system is based on student test results, classroom observations and assessments of lesson planning. Some districts also look at teacher attendance, but Santa Fe is not one of them. Santa Fe Public Schools received permission to deviate somewhat and place more emphasis on classroom observations. Santa Fe also includes a student survey of a teacher’s effectiveness. But the district did not compile those surveys in time have them factored in to the evaluations.

The education department also still penalized the district for teacher attendance, despite giving permission not to count it.

Santa Fe teachers’ next evaluations may be different from what was given in the spring. However, Boyd said he doubts any instructor will make a huge leap from “minimally effective” to “exemplary.”

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Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com

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