One week after the New Mexico Public Education Department released unflattering evaluations for Santa Fe Public Schools teachers, local school officials are sharing their disputes of the data with the state.
The state's evaluations found that Santa Fe teachers ranked much worse than the state averages. Across New Mexico, 76 percent of teachers were deemed either "effective," "highly effective" or "exemplary" when the state released evaluation results in May. But just 49.5 percent of Santa Fe's teachers ranked in those three passing categories, according to PED's data released last week.
Those lumped in the "minimally effective" and "ineffective" categories made up 50.5 percent of Santa Fe teachers. That's almost double the statewide average of 27.2 percent of teachers who made failing categories.
Historically, Santa Fe has ranked as one of the state's worst public education districts in test scores and graduation rates, but Superintendent Joel Boyd recently dubbed SFPS as one of the state's "fastest improving" school districts. Boyd, a Harvard-educated reformer who rose quickly in the Philadelphia school system, assumed his role in Santa Fe in the fall of 2012 with a platform of reform after the rocky tenure of his predecessor, Bobbie Gutierrez.
Though Santa Fe's graduation rate dropped slightly (from 61.8 percent to 60 percent) from 2012 to 2013, Boyd points to growth in reading and math scores (from 46.5 percent to 47.6 percent and 34.6 percent to 36.1 percent, respectively) and a drop in the overall dropout rate from 6 percent to 2.8 percent over the same period. He's in the midst of a five-year plan to make SFPS the state's best school district.
Boyd immediately criticized the state's evaluations of Santa Fe teachers, telling news outlets that they didn't mesh up with the district's recent test score improvements. Richard Bowman, SFPS' chief accountability and strategy officer, says that the district has been in contact with the state education department about the evaluations since they've been released.
"We are still researching the concerns," Bowman says. "There's upwards of 3,000 data points to check and we want to investigate all of them."
A meeting between SFPS and PED is scheduled for Friday afternoon.
SFPS previously released preliminary teacher evaluation data in July that found that 96 percent of the district's teachers were ranked as "effective," "highly effective" or "exemplary." But those results didn't include the evaluations' most controversial factors—student test scores and student surveys—and instead relied on classroom observations and "planning and professionalism" metrics.
Santa Fe's teacher evaluations are also supposed to be scored differently than most of the rest of the state. Instead of student test scores making up 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation, Santa Fe's model, which was approved by education department as an alternative to its statewide model, puts test scores at 35 percent of the evaluation.