- Associated Press - Monday, January 30, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera is pushing for state lawmakers to pass legislation aimed at reducing the amount student test scores count on teacher evaluations.

Skandera said Monday she is recommending that student achievement be dropped from 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation to 40 percent. She also would like principal observations to have more weight in evaluations.

In addition, Skandera said she’s like to see an increase in the number of days exempt in the attendance component from three days to five.

“We heard a lot about teacher evaluations, and we wanted to be responsive,” Skandera said. “This is the first step.”

The move comes after Skandera went on a statewide “listening tour” and gathered feedback from teachers.

The nonpartisan think tank New Mexico First helped to compile comments from the tour, and issued a preliminary report on Monday. The report also comes days after New Mexico announced record graduation rates.

Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein said teachers feel the overall evaluation system is flawed and small changes don’t cut it.

“It’s a flawed system. It doesn’t work,” Bernstein said. “A 10 percent concession (around test scores) three years later is not the answer. It’s not even in the same ballpark.”

National Education Association-New Mexico executive director Charles Bowyer said the union doesn’t want the teacher evaluation system into state law but rather keep it as a state regulation. His union is in talks with the New Mexico Public Education Department to settle a lawsuit over the evaluation system.

“We would be opposed to this,” he said.

Skandera said she hopes Democrats and the teachers’ unions would “come together” for a compromise to adopt the recommendations.

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