FARMINGTON — Educators from San Juan County and around New Mexico on Tuesday told state legislators about some of the problems they have experienced with the implementation of the state's new teacher evaluation system.
The New Mexico Legislative Education Study Committee held a meeting at San Juan College to hear from San Juan County superintendents and teachers about the evaluation system with many stating they are happy with the potential of the system but have reservations about the system being rushed into use.
Superintendent Frank Chiapetti of Gallup-McKinley County Public Schools, Kirk Carpenter of Aztec Municipal Schools, Joe Rasor of the Bloomfield School District, and Janel Ryan of Farmington Municipal Schools were on the panel with Deborah Jackson, head administrator of the New Mexico Virtual Academy and principals Warman Hall of Aztec High School and Tatia Fernandez of Park Avenue Elementary in Aztec.
The superintendents shared their frustrations with policies and procedures they say resulted in incorrect data that affected teacher scores. They said the system should have been implemented over a two-year period instead of one year.
Because of the problems, the New Mexico Public Education Department says it will send corrected evaluations to districts by the end of August.
Rep. Tomás E. Salazar, D-District 70, asked about the perception parents might have about the ongoing issues with the teacher evaluation system and if it reflects negatively on them.
Ryan said her issue was with the data being reported, not the quality of education from her teachers.
Ryan brought up how the annual Standards-Based Assessment tests students are given in March has changed as the state has transitioned to The Common Core State Standards initiative.
Ryan said as the test has changed in the last two years and for the upcoming school year, it has not provided a consistent assessment of those students and it will take a couple of years to get quality data.
"The last thing I want to do is label a teacher 'minimally effective' for a group of parents without showing the positive things that are happening," Ryan said.
Rasor said he attached a letter to evaluations distributed to teachers, saying it was not a true picture this school year because the administration was still working to understand the system.
"How do you like explaining things you, yourself didn't understand," Rasor said. "It's still a difficult system to manage."
Rep. Jimmie Hall, R-District 28, asked the panel where the responsibility fell in making sure the data was correct, the school district or the Public Education Department.
Carpenter said reporting data in the Student Teacher Accountability Reporting System can be complicated and Aztec schools ran into specific issues reporting on special education teachers where data was not showing up after it was entered.
"It's going to be a very complicated issue to solve, so it's going to take some time," Carpenter said. "I really think it's going to take months to really determine, as a school district, how do we really report teachers."
Chiapetti said in some areas, responsibilities for the problems fall on the school district. But when reporting those issues to the department, he said he'll have to look at the data for nearly 900 teachers in the Gallup school district individually to determine exactly where things went wrong.
"To just answer some of your questions on this report, it was a full day job for me," Chiapetti said. "Because I had look it up, report card by report card, by person by person. Then I can't tell you if the data is correct because then I have to look up what they (taught) last year and the year before. It's a tremendous strain on the districts."