Politico reports on the lawsuit that teachers have filed against the state’s teacher evaluation system, which bases 50% of a teacher’s evaluation on test scores:


UNIONS SEEKING HALT TO NEW MEXICO TEACHER EVALS: An effort to halt New Mexico’s teacher evaluation system is back in court today for a third day of testimony. The American Federation of Teachers New Mexico and the Albuquerque Teachers Federation filed a lawsuit in February against the state education department and its education secretary, Hanna Skandera, arguing that the evaluation system relies too heavily on student test scores and violates teachers’ constitutional rights. Data reporting errors produced inaccurate evaluations in spring 2014, prompting Skandera to usher in changes [http://bit.ly/1rn00X2 ]. But the most divisive piece – basing 50 percent of teachers’ evaluations on students’ standardized test scores – remained in place. Some New Mexico teachers even burned their evaluations, protesting [http://bit.ly/1AniLTk] inaccuracies as well as what they see as an inherently unfair system. The national affiliate of both local unions, the American Federation of Teachers, has been heavily involved in the case. President Randi Weingarten attended [http://bit.ly/1FIUxWq ] a hearing on the unions’ request for a preliminary injunction in mid-September. She said she hopes the judge will stop the program now, before a trial next spring decides whether the entire evaluation system is valid.

– AFT also released a report on teacher evaluations, highlighting the experiences of 10 districts in New York and Rhode Island that changed their approaches. A long-time crusader against what it sees as the overuse of student test scores in high-stakes decision-making, AFT says evaluation systems must use multiple measures in order to get the most accurate picture of a teacher’s effectiveness: http://bit.ly/1JDHIHS.

– Speaking of teachers, the Education Department has sent its final teacher preparation rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review. [http://1.usa.gov/1VrsDQE] The proposed rule, released [http://politico.pro/1L4IwuU ] last November, aims to drive bad teacher preparation programs out of business. Teachers unions have panned the rule for using student test scores to measure how new teachers are performing in the classroom, although the department says states would be able to use other measures as well, like classroom observations. Other groups have said it would place a huge financial burden on states, which would be tasked with collecting new data on teacher placement, retention and student learning. The department has said the rule would cost states and teacher prep programs $42 million over 10 years. But groups like the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing said it could cost California alone $485 million for just one year. The final rule is expected sometime this month.

To learn more about the lawsuit in New Mexico, read Audrey Amrein-Beardsley’s description of the proceedings here. Beardsley testified for four hours on the deficiencies of the model. Today, Tom Kane (an economist and a champion of VAM) will testify.