Education Department makes changes to teacher evaluations

The state Public Education Department is tweaking parts of its controversial teacher evaluation system. Mainly, school districts won’t need to use standardized tests to evaluate teachers who teach subjects that aren’t tested. New Mexico Political Report wrote about that problem earlier this summer. For that story, we profiled Nick Prior, a 26-year-old music teacher at Albuquerque’s Eisenhower Middle School. From our earlier report:
This year, Prior scored just 112 out of 200 possible points on his state-mandated teacher evaluation, ranking him “minimally effective.”
It’s also a dramatic drop from last year’s evaluation, when Prior scored a “highly effective” ranking.

Judge rules PED violated state open records law

A Santa Fe district court judge handed down fines to the state’s Public Education Department Thursday afternoon for failing to properly respond to public records requests from a teachers’ union. The state must pay nearly $500, plus attorneys fees, for failing to abide by the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA). The main contention was the union’s records request centered around National Education Association New Mexico (NEA) attorney Jerry Todd Wertheim said was “the core of public debate over the teacher evaluation system.” The union asked for all public documents associated with a claim often repeated by PED Secretary Hanna Skandera and others over the years—that the previous state teacher evaluation system found more than 99 percent of the state’s teachers competent. They said this showed it was not an effective evaluation.

APS takes issue with 30 percent of its teacher evaluations

New Mexico’s largest public school district wants the state to take a second look at nearly one-third of the evaluations the state conducted on its teachers. As of Friday, June 19, Albuquerque Public Schools submitted formal inquiries on behalf of 1,671 teachers to the state Public Education Department over problems with evaluations. That’s just over thirty percent of the 5,538 APS teachers who received state evaluations this year. APS spokeswoman Johanna King was careful to explain that the district doesn’t necessarily believe that all 1,671 contested evaluations are wrong. She said some of the inquiries ask for clarifications or more information, while others question an entire evaluation’s validity.