On May 13, 2015, New Mexico held a stakeholders’ convention in Albuquerque to discuss the 2015 New Mexico Educator Equity Plan, and the link included in this post was available online June 1 as apparent followup. The June 1 link includes materials made available to participants in the convention, as well as followup messages from several stakeholders. However, no clear plan is outlined in the June 1 posting.
A report made available at the convention and online explains federal requirements for equity in education and describes New Mexico’s existing equity gaps in educator effectiveness between economically disadvantaged and non-economically disadvantaged students. Data is broken out comparing the effectiveness of teachers working with minority vs. nonminority students. In addition, data is disaggregated in other potentially useful ways, i.e. by school district and by student achievement in various subject areas.
The report acknowledges the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee’s recent finding that there are fewer experienced teachers in New Mexico’s high-poverty, high minority schools. The report also claims that qualifications do not correlate with teacher effectiveness, and that 99% of New Mexico’s teachers are highly qualified according to No Child Left Behind standards.
In May of 2015, New Mexico received a waiver allowing flexibility in compliance with federal standards for highly qualified teachers (HQT). According to the press release from NMHED, “The waiver, which was requested by New Mexico, allows school and district leaders to replace credentials with demonstrated effectiveness.” NMPED appears to believe that the teacher evaluation system will assure equity for all children in all schools by encouraging excellence in the classroom everywhere.
New Mexico is the first state to receive this type of waiver; however, New Mexico teachers are not all comfortable with the NMTEACH evaluation rating system, which rates teacher performance 50% on student test scores.
A May 2015 article in the Albuquerque Journal states that teacher unions and some school officials don’t believe the ratings are very accurate measures of teacher performance. The American Federation of Teachers—New Mexico and the National Education Association—NM have filed lawsuits that challenge the system. The state has responded to these suits asserting that identified problems are being addressed.
AFT New Mexico’s 2015 report entitled “Four Pillars—Creating a World Class Education System for New Mexico” asks the state to consider child poverty when funding and measuring school performance. Further, AFT-NM calls for increased funding for early childhood education, more teacher autonomy, shared decision making, vocational alternatives for high school students, and more venues for improving student social and emotional development, including school counselors. The AFT report contains strong language in response to NMPED’s current approach to improving teaching and learning:
New Mexico should embrace proven, educator-driven school reforms that will improve education in the state’s 828 public schools. The responsibility of improving public education should be taken away from those who scheme to profit from our children and should be placed in the hands of educators who work daily in the schools—those who know our students best.