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Re-evaluating Reform

August 20, 2014, 12:00 am
The state Public Education Department has backtracked on its evaluations of Santa Fe teachers after pushback from the local school district. Initially, the department reported that just under half of Santa Fe’s estimated 900 public school teachers ranked as “effective” or better under the evaluation’s algorithm. That’s much lower than the state average of 73 percent of teachers.

Santa Fe Public Schools immediately took issue with the department’s calculations, asserting that they were much lower than the district’s own projections.

The evaluations rate teachers on a series of different categories, which include student surveys and test scores. In many cases, PED marked Santa Fe teachers with zeros in categories where data were missing and otherwise shouldn’t have been counted. Factoring in these zeros to teachers’ overall scores made the evaluations artificially low, says Richard Bowman, chief accountability and strategy officer for SFPS.

The reasons for missing data varies on a case-by-case basis. “Suppose an administrator goes into a classroom and does not rate the teacher on one of the elements,” Bowman says. “Should the teacher still get rated on that element?”

On Aug. 15, after several meetings with Santa Fe school officials, PED gave the district new evaluation figures that show roughly 67 percent of Santa Fe’s teachers rank as “effective” or better. Bowman says this is much closer to the district’s own projections. But he’ll still pore over all of state’s data for verification. He says this is being done as fast as possible.

“There will be different cases for different people,” Bowman says, “and they all need to be checked.”


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