New Mexico teachers to be evaluated on student test scores

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Teachers in New Mexico are calling a new state-wide evaluation system unfair. Half of a teacher's evaluation will be based on their students' test scores.

Teachers told ABC-7 test scores don't always show how well a student is doing. They worry the system will put too much weight on test scores.

"Teachers are good people. They care about kids. They didn't get into teaching to be test robots," said Mary Sanchez, a teacher at Picacho Middle School.

Sanchez is also the vice president for the National Education Association in New Mexico.

"When we're not testing kids, we're talking about the test. We're evaluating the test and it's test, test, test, test," Sanchez said.

Under the new evaluation system, 50 percent of teacher evaluations will be based on how their students score on those tests.

"It's not we're afraid of accountability. There have been tests on this kind of model from Florida, for instance, where you rate a teacher as highly exemplary one year. Then they get a new group of kids and then guess what, all of a sudden they're not exemplary," said Patrick Sanchez, a teacher at Lynn Middle School.

"I don't think it's an added pressure to any teacher as long as they're committed to excellence in their classroom, and I know our teachers are," said Hanna Skandera, secretary-designate of education in New Mexico.

Some worry this pressure could lead to another cheating scandal like what happened in the El Paso Independent School District.

"You always have concerns about the validity of tests but we have a very good testing protocol in this district. I don't believe we're going to have a concern there," said Eric Fraass, the director of human resources for Las Cruces Public Schools.

Fraass explained teachers will be evaluated on the last three years of their students' test scores. The state created a formula to calculate the test score each student should be achieving each year. The evaluation will take into account whether or not the teachers' students reached their goals.

The evaluation system is mandated by the state, but in the Las Cruces Public Schools District, 10 percent of teacher evaluations will be based on attendance.

If a teacher takes more than two sick days in a year, they lose points.

"It goes to teacher morale. We're at an all time low. We feel we're being attacked and this is just a slap in the face," Patrick Sanchez told ABC-7.

Fraass said any special cases that require a teacher to be out for more than a few days will not count against them in their evaluation.

He also explained this first year will be sort of a trial run to work out the kinks in the system.

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