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New Mexico education officials announce changes to teacher-evaluation process

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ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — Several changes will be made to New Mexico's teacher evaluation system, which has hit several snags since its launch, the state's top education official said Friday.

Education Secretary Hanna Skandera said the changes will address the reporting of incorrect data and grant more flexibility to schools, the Albuquerque Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1rn00X2).

The changes were presented Thursday to the New Mexico School Superintendents' Association, Skandera said. "What happens is when we work together, we accomplish more for our kids," she said.

The changes include making sure the state Public Education Department and districts schedule time to share accurate data.

The evaluations have faced scrutiny since they were first released in May, with many teachers reporting errors in their scores. The evaluations are based on students' standardized test scores, the observations of principals and factors such as teacher attendance or student surveys. The mistakes included ratings based on incomplete or incorrect test data, being marked down for incorrect numbers of absences and missing data from student surveys.

Hundreds of teachers who received evaluations with errors will get corrected versions by the end of August, Public Education Department spokesman Larry Behrens said earlier this month.

Some districts reported few errors, while others reported many. Skandera has said faulty data reported by districts during the first implementation of the new evaluation system caused the errors, but some superintendents have said they doubted the districts alone were responsible.

Another policy change allows school districts to decide if teachers who receive a "minimally effective" rating should be put on a performance-growth plan that was previously mandatory.

T.J. Parks, president of the association and superintendent of Hobbs Municipal Schools, said the evaluations should be "more user-friendly."

However, Parks said he and other superintendents told Skandera they are still opposed to the idea that 50 percent of an evaluation is based on students' standardized test scores. Parks said the association will continue to work with the department but "nothing is off the table."

Ellen Bernstein, president of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, agreed that the revisions fail to address the major problems with evaluations. Teachers don't trust the evaluations to accurately reflect their abilities, Bernstein said.

"It's still the same flawed system," she said.


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

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