Director of Educator Quality says stopping evaluations would affect federal funding

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SANTA FE — A witness for the New Mexico Public Education Department said during a hearing that if a judge stops the state’s new teacher evaluation system it would negatively impact students and the school system in general.

American Federation of Teachers New Mexico and the Albuquerque Teachers Federation are seeking an injunction to halt the use of test scores while their lawsuit against the evaluation system goes through the court system.

A Santa Fe judge is hearing arguments over whether the state should stop its use of test scores in the evaluations.

On Tuesday, Director of Educator Quality for the Public Education Department Matt Montano testified that the state could lose federal funding and its waiver for certain federal No Child Left Behind Act mandates if the evaluations stop. He will not be subjected to cross-examination until Thursday when the hearing is scheduled to continue, but the waiver claim has been contested by Democratic legislators since 2013.

Montano was one of three witnesses to testify for the state. Paym Greene, executive director of El Camino Real Academy in Albuquerque, and Suchint Sarangarm, deputy superintendent for assessment and data analysis for the Hobbs Municipal School District, and Montano all testified that the evaluation system is a fair way to judge teacher effectiveness.

“It’s not about teacher comfort,” Greene said. “It’s about, ‘Are their kids learning?’ You can’t evaluate how well a teacher is performing if you don’t have data to substantiate that.”

First District Judge David Thomson said he plans to rule by Oct. 16.

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