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Hidalgo County Herald
Lordsburg, New Mexico
November 22, 2013     Hidalgo County Herald
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November 22, 2013

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6 HIDALGO COUNTY HERALD FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2013 Bivens win S0uthside draWing Parents who attended Southside Elementary School'a open house were registered for a drawing for a Thanksgiving Turkey, donated by Saucedo's Supermarket. The winner was Robby and Shaun Bivens. Pictured above are on their behalf is their daughter, Breanne Bivens with Southside secretary Tammy Newell. Courtesy photo Newell wins RVT turkey R.V. Tray!or Elementary School's Open House turkey winner was Connie Newell. Pictured above with Newell is Jameson Webber, the RVT first grader who picked the lucky name in the drawing. Special thank you to Saucedo's Supermarket for the turkey dona- tion. Courtesy photo NM union teachers upset with evaluation system By LINDSEY BRIGHTRio Grande Sun ESPANOLA - Lawsuits have been filed by the American Federation of Teachers union, state legislators and individual teachers. Walk-outs and strikes have been contemplated ,by union teachers. Protest rallies with teachers, students and com- munity members have been held. All this has been done on a state level to oppose the new teacher evaluation system, for- mally called the NMTeach Edu- cator Effectiveness Plan, being implemented this year by the state Public Education Depart- ment. Locally, the Espafiola School District has been having its own problems with the evalu- ation system. At Espafiola School Board's Oct. 30 academic and fi- nance work session, District Hu- man Resource Officer Esther Romero said not only had teach- ers come to her expressing their frustration at the new evaluation system, some have, decided to re- sign. "In the last two weeks, I've had four teachers come in very upset with this process. And out of the four, two have turned in their resignation or retirement let- ter," Romero said. The teachers resigning be- cause of the new evaluation sys- tem are experienced, veteran teachers, Romero said. On the other hand, first- and second-year teachers are on the average, tak- ing the evaluation in stride, sle said. "I have not seen any first- and second-year teachers com- plaining. They are the ones that are, 'Okay, this is what I hav.e to do. I will do whatever it takes to keep my job and do what I have to do.' It's those veteran teachers that are not wanting to make the change," Romero said. Teachers are frustrated with the evaluation, the new lesson plans imposed on them and the manner in which they must up- load evidences and documenta- tion to the teacher evaluation sys- tem, Romero said. She does not see the complaining, frustration or resigning coming to an end any time soon. "We are going to see more Fast Approval Build Your Credit No Checking , Account Needed No Hassles Call Us Today/ Apply in person on call ahead! 6ENTR'Y F.I,N A N,G E 24 E, Motel Dr, L0rdsburg, NM Call today! 575.542. (resignations) as the year progresses," Romero said. The new system separates teachers into three categories: teachers that teach grades and/or subjects that can be meaningfully linked to the standards-based as- sessment; teachers that teach subjects and grades that cannot be meaningfully linked to the standards based assessment; and teachers that teach grades kinder- garten through second. For all groups, 50 percent of their evaluation is based on student achievement, 25 percent on observa- tion, 15 percent on preparation, planning and professionalism, and the last 10 percent is teacher attendance. However, the measures used for student achievement Changes for each teacher group. For the first teacher group, 35 percent of their evaluation is based on the Standards Based Assessment scores and 15 percent on end of course exams. For the second group of teach- ers, the Standards Based Assessment plays no role in the assessment. Instead, the student achievement is evalu- ated solely by the end of course exams or interim assessments for the elementary level. The last group of teachers, whose students are too young for end of course exams, are evaluated on the Dy- namic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) test. Jonathan Leibowitz, Na- tional Education Association re- gional representative, said state- wide teachers have responded to the evaluation system similarly to those in Espafiola -- by either submitting a resignation letter to be effective immediately or threatening to resign in Decem- ber or at the end of the school year. Leibowitz said the system has three main problems. First, the observation system is itself flawed, he said. "A lot of observers across the state have not been trained," Leibowitz said. Secondly, the emphasis the evaluation system puts on testing is restrictive to both students and teachers. "The emphasis on testing re- stricts the ability to teach. It re: aII creates a focus in the class- room on the test' and does not al- low or understand different styles of learning and teaching that need to be employed to be an ef- fective teacher," Leibowitz said. The third major problem is the system does not fit every school in every District, he said. Many rural schools utilize com- bination classrooms and right now, the evaluation system does not have an appropriate way for that to be represented in the sys- tem. " For these reasons and many others, the Association has made its opposition to the system clear. The Association, together with the teachers union, on Nov. 20, will hold a take Back Education Day, Leibowitz said. On Nov. 20, all teachers op- posing the new evaluation sys- tem will wear black. "We are not afraid of tests -- we invented them. But the imposed teacher evaluation system is about using tests to punish educators, rather than help students," the state NEA website states. "We (NEA) want a better evaluation system that does not rely on high-stakes testing," Leibowitz said. ,The Espafiola School Board made its stance on the new sys- tem clear this July when the Board passed a resolution stating that while there are some excel- lent aspects to the evaluation sys- tem being implemented, "other areas of the proposed evaluation framework are more problematic, especially the fact that the crite- ria for rating teachers varies de- pending on whether their.stu- dents' proficiency is assessed via the state's standardized tests." .... The resolution ends with a plea to the state Public Education Department to delay the full implementation of the evaluation system by one year. "Every superintendent is against part of this plan," District Superintendent Danny Trujillo said in a Nov. 7 interview. "We won't be able to meet 100 per- cent compliance. There's just no way." Trujillo said he is part of a faction within the New Mexico School Administrators which op- poses the evaluation system. The group has gone before the gover- nor requesting the implementa- tion of the system be delayed by at least two years. Unless a lawsuit rules against the state, all New Mexico public and charter schools will have to implement the evaluation system, and so far, Espafiola as a whole, has not met the dates for the system's deadline. Oct. 30 wasthe deadline for elementary princi- pals to submit their first observa- tions. For the secondary schools, the deadline for the first observa- tion is Nov: 30. This observation is to be Completed by the princi- pal for every single teacher. "It's too time-intensive," Trujillo said. "Conceptually, I agree with the system. It will even- tually become an even more ef- fective model for evaluation and will give us.a nice data bank," he said. Trujillo said in the instance of Fairview Elementary, Principal Myra Martinez has 21 teachers on her staff, all of whom she is tasked with evaluating. To meet the state's requirements, Martinez must complete the following for each teacher: three walk-throughs (approximately 15 minutes each), three observations (45 minutes each), a professional develop- ment plan, a reflection and a post assessment. All of this must be completed and submitted to the state via the Teachscape portal by mid-April, Trujillo said. For Martinez, she must complete and submit a total of 189 documents and forms for her staff. Time commitment Principal of Los Nifios Kin- dergarten Center and Espafiola Elementary School Jule' Skoglund said the new evaluation system has been a huge time com- mitment because of the detail of each evaluation. Skoglund said it was a very thorough evaluation she believes will be fruitful in the end. "It's a really beneficial pro- cess," Skoglund said. "It's going to help because when we know where we are we can bring it to the next level." However, in spite of the fu- ture benefits, Skoglund said the hurried implementation has made the evaluation system difficult. She said even though she went to the state training, the evaluation's website wasn't ready. "We weren't train- ing in detail. It was a very brief two-hour training where they opened up the website and let us go in and click around," Skoglund said. She also said many teachers are hav- ing difficulties up- loading the appropri- ate documents. Skoglund said many of the younger teachers have been able to teach themselves how to use ...... the system and are training the other teachers. As far as the charter schools in the District, Director Ed Wood of La Tierra Montessori School of the Arts and Sciences said be- cause of his small staff of six teachers, the evaluations and ob- servations have been manage- able. However, Wood said he does not hold the evaluation system as an answer to the state's prob- lems in education and emphasizes testing far too much. "I hope that everyone in- volved in education could work together to come up with (a) sys- tem that helped improve educa- tion, because it is so needed, and we all know and all agree that standardized tests and standard- ized assessment are not, the an- swer," Wood said. Verfion Jaramillo, principal of Los Carifios de los Nifios Char- ter School, said his school is not experiencing any major frustra- tion or trouble implementing the evaluation system. "It's a new process and there to maintain focus, grow outstand- ing teachers and teachers have been really open-minded about it. They understand they 'need feedback as well, and need to have these conversations because it's what's best for the kids," Jaramillo said. Jaramillo might not be in the majority saying the new system is"best for the kids," but accord- ing to the "nation's report card" released last week, the students in New Mexico need something to change in the education sys- tem. The report card assesses read- ing and writing aptitudes of stu- dents in the fourth and eighth grade in each state, and this year Nev Mexico once again came in at the bottom. The data published by the National Center for Education Statistics shows most states' scores went up. New Mexico, however, did not. In fourth grade reading, .the score went down two points, ranking New Mexico above only Washington, D.C. Eighth grade reading scores stayed even for the state, putting the state ahead of both Washing- ton, D.C. and Mississippi. Math scores for eighth grade went down two points in New Mexico, ranking the state 48 in the country. Fourth grade math scores stayed even, ranking them 49 nationally. 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