- Associated Press - Friday, September 8, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - About 74 percent of public school teachers in New Mexico are rated as effective or better when it comes to their success in the classroom, officials announced Friday.

That’s the highest percentage of effective or better teachers since Gov. Susana Martinez adopted a new teacher evaluation system four years ago.

The New Mexico Public Education Department unveiled the latest results under a much-debated system that’s the focus of an ongoing court battle. Earlier this year, the Martinez administration announced changes after meetings with teachers around the state to reduce the weight that standardized test scores have on evaluations.

The new results say that the number of “highly effective” teachers rose 9 percent while the number of “ineffective” teachers statewide fell around 41 percent.

New Mexico Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski credited the rise in effective or better teachers to school districts taking advantage of state-funded professional development programs. “The number of school districts and charters who have applied to (these programs) have, like, tripled,” Ruszkowski said.

Not all school districts are taking advantage of programs aimed at helping teachers and improving student achievement, Ruszkowski said.

Teacher unions didn’t buy the latest evaluation results.

“Even though teachers checked class lists, some have more or fewer students being counted for their evaluations than they actually teach,” said National Education Association in New Mexico president Betty Patterson.

“Many teachers were docked for days they attended training sessions, including ones required or provided by the PED and the private contractors profiting from this system,” Patterson said.

Patterson said students need to learn and be inspired, but that standardized tests are not an accurate measure of a student’s creativity or potential or of a teacher’s ability to motivate students.

American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly said teachers were reporting that evaluations had inaccurate, incomplete or missing data.

“Sadly, these errors on the part of the NM PED will continue to be used to blame New Mexico’s public educators for the shortcomings and failed promises of seven years of so-called PED ‘reforms’ under (former Education Secretary) Hanna Skandera, and now, Christopher Ruszkowski,” Ly said.


Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at https://twitter.com/russcontreras

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