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Scores Fall on New Mexico's Revamped Teacher Evaluations

New Mexico is the latest state to put out information on how its teachers are faring under a new evaluation system. According to results released this week, 74 percent of the state's teachers were deemed effective or better on the system this school year, a slight drop from 78 percent in 2013-14. 

Those figures are notably lower than the results from many other states, which routinely top the 90 percent mark (even after implementing new evaluation systems). But it isn't clear exactly what's driving the pattern of high ratings—something that depends on a variety of factors, including the measures chosen to grade teachers, the cut-points selected on those measures, and how they're combined into one final score.

New Mexico has had a bit of a rough path instituting these evaluations. Legislative efforts to overhaul the reviews failed; eventually, State Superintendent Hanna Skandera put the new system in place through regulation. The system counts student test scores for up to half of a teachers' evaluation. Last year, there were complaints about inaccurate scores and missing data, leading to a lawsuit from the state teachers' union.

The state has made some changes this year—for example, it now weights the growth on student tests at 50 percent only if a teacher has at least three years of data for the calculation. It also issued much more information to teachers on their performance, with five pages of sub-scores compared to one-page summary last year.

This hasn't made everyone happy, though: News reports said many teachers continue to find the evaluation system unfair and punitive. The state education department, though, says the system has had positive effects, including better teacher-attendance rates.

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