[4/12] For Our Future: This Week's Education News & More

Friends & Colleagues -

Spring has sprung, as has education news from across New Mexico and the country. This week I'm providing independent analysis and a summary table of U.S. News' recently released New Mexico school rankings. While there are certainly some highlights, the report is another reminder of the tough and necessary work ahead. Here's the latest round up:

  • [LOCAL] The governor and NMPED have made tough compromises on our statewide teacher evaluation system, NM Teach, including:
    • Doubling the number of sick / personal days teachers can take before it affects their evaluation from three to six;
    • Student test results now reflect 35% of a teacher's evaluation, down from 50%; and
    • Classroom observations are now 35% of a teacher's evaluation, up from 25%.

While the changes in and of themselves are common-sense and reflect the latest research on incorporating student data into evaluations, that our evaluation system remains unwritten into law is worrisome. We are well past the need to codify our approach into law and move the discussion forward to how we evolve the system over time, not whether we should have one at all.

  • [LOCAL] Leadership New Mexico member Scott Turner issues a call to action for New Mexico to expect and do better for our students.
  • [LOCAL] U.S. News has released their 2017 rankings of best high schools in New Mexico. While side-by-side comparisons must always be contextualized, the fact that 4 out of the top 10 schools are public charters is noteworthy. Especially in a state where there are roughly the same number of APS elementary schools as there are charter schools across the entire state. See below for a summary table I've created and some quick analysis:
    • There is large alignment between the rankings and our school grades with 8 of 10 being "A" schools;
    • The top three high schools are relatively small with enrollments of 614, 340 and 69 total students, respectively;
    • There are alarming gaps between low-income students and their peers; see the "LIC Proficient" and "Gap" columns; and
    • We still have far to go; only the top three schools have "College Readiness" scores of 50 or higher and only Cottonwood Classical is above 80.
  • [NATIONAL] Here's a nifty and brief reminder from The 74 Million, including a 2-minute video, explaining what exactly charters schools (publicly funded but independently operated schools that are open to all children and tuition-free) are and are not.
  • [NATIONAL] While we don’t all agree on the future of education and the best ways to get there, we must still interact with one another respectfully. That’s my view which is shared by a bipartisan coalition of two dozen education leaders who have published a white paper providing guidelines on how to forge a “productive dialogue” on race, social justice and education reform.
2017 New Mexico U.S. News High School Rankings