LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Teachers' unions across New Mexico held public rallies to protest a new teacher evaluation system in the state.
Hundreds of people gathered in the parking lot of the Las Cruces Public Schools administration building.
They feel the new evaluation system gives too much weight to student test scores.
Under the new system, test scores will be 50 percent of the evaluation.
Teachers think students are learning how to pass a test rather than getting an education.
Superintendent Stan Rounds held a news conference just before the rally in Las Cruces started.
Rounds said it's important for teachers to emote about the changes in the system. He also said testing has not changed over the years. He said it's been formalized.
Teachers protested that they don't have control of what students are tested on anymore. That's a big concern for them.
Teachers also said they don't mind being evaluated on test scores, but they think 50 percent is too much.
"Teachers aren't opposed to tests. In fact, we invented them, but what is happening now is that control is being taken away from the teacher and ultimately from the kids that we teach, because a lot of tests the kids are taking, the material may or may not be covered in the class so you're putting a lot of stress on the kids and affecting their ability to graduate," said Mary Parr-Sanchez, the vice president of the National Education Association in New Mexico and an eighth-grade U.S. history teacher.
Both teachers and Rounds shared concerns that the new evaluation system was rolled out too quickly.
Larry Behrens, a spokesman for the New Mexico Public Education Department, sent ABC-7 this statement in response: "Currently, over 99 percent of our teachers receive the same evaluation every single year; they're simply labeled "meets competency." That's neither fair, nor accurate; in fact, it's not really an evaluation at all.
"We are implementing an evaluation system that will finally allow us to honor and recognize our best teachers and get help and assistance to those who need it. We expect our teachers to help our students learn, and therefore, student achievement is one important and necessary component of each evaluation (among several other components).
"It's vital to note that similar opposition efforts and claims were made in Tennessee when they implemented a similar evaluation system just a couple of years ago; just last week, though, Tennessee was recognized as achieving the largest gains in student achievement in the country. These are proven reforms to lift student achievement, and that's what should be at the forefront of everything we do in education."