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In New Mexico, Major Changes to Nation's Toughest Teacher Evaluation System

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has announced major changes to the state's teacher evaluation system.

New Mexico's teacher evaluation regime is the toughest in the nation, judging as many as 29 percent of the state's educators as either ineffective or in need of improvement. 

Under the Republican governor's plan, the weight of student test results will drop from 50 percent to 35 percent and teachers will be allowed to take twice as many sick days before being penalized for excessive absences. The changes will take effect this fall. At a press conference at a charter school in Albuquerque, Martinez said that the state's teachers drove the changes.

"Our teachers have spoken, and we've listened," said Martinez, according to the Albuquerque Journal. "These changes are for teachers and by teachers, and I know they'll help build on the success we're seeing in the classroom."

Union leaders, however, are unhappy with the changes. Charles Bowyer, the executive direction or National Education Association New Mexico, called the change to the sick day policy "a small improvement to a seriously flawed concept," but blasted the continued inclusion of student test scores as scientifically unfounded.

"We find it ironic that, after years of saying 50 percent of a teacher evaluation must be based on student achievement, based mostly on test scores, that suddenly, without any empirical evidence whatsoever, that number can suddenly, magically be lowered to 35 percent," Bowyer said in a statement, reports the Albuquerque Journal.

Meanwhile, the Connecticut Board of Education voted to eliminate the inclusion of test scores altogether in its teacher evaluation system, reports the Hartford Courant.

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