- Associated Press - Saturday, June 7, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Newly released state teacher evaluations that are based on erroneous data left New Mexico educators confused and frustrated, the Albuquerque Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1k6Qa6b) Saturday.

Albuquerque school officials and the state Public Education Department say some evaluations were based on data that had factual errors.

Some of the mistakes came from information submitted by districts, but officials are working to correct evaluations, said Matt Montano, the department’s director of educator quality.

Several elementary school principals said the evaluations showed a lack of consistency in scoring teachers. As a result, they present unfair portraits of teachers’ performances. The state hasn’t given a clear explanation for the problem, they said.

Under the new system, half of a teacher’s score is based on student achievement data from standardized tests. Classroom observations, review of lesson plans and attendance make up 25, 15 and 10 percent, respectively.

At the end of the evaluations, teachers are rated by their effectiveness, with “exemplary” as the highest and “ineffective” as the lowest.

Some longtime teachers at S.Y. Jackson Elementary weren’t graded at all on student achievement while others were, Principal Jack Vermillion said. A group of principals said some teachers were rated “minimally effective,” even when it was clear students had made progress. Also, they said some teachers were listed as absent on days they were at work.

Shelly Green, the Albuquerque Public Schools’ chief academic officer, said the district has sent letters to teachers who were getting incorrectly marked as absent. “We are working with (the Public Education Department) to identify any teachers who may have been given scores in the student achievement category based on insufficient data,” Green said.

Green did not have an estimate of how many teachers in the district could be affected.

Montano said attendance and classroom observations weighed more heavily with some teachers because there wasn’t enough test data available yet for a student achievement score, which is based on three years’ worth of data.

Montano insists the new evaluation is giving principals and teachers more insight into how a teacher and the students are faring.

“The principals have more information than they had before,” Montano said.

Many educators have criticized the evaluation system, saying it places too much emphasis on student performance on standardized tests. The previous system took a pass-fail approach of whether a teacher was competent or not based on what administrators observed during classroom visits. Less than 1 percent of teachers failed to meet standards under the old system, state officials said.


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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