Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy
The state should ensure that teachers receive feedback about their performance and should require professional development to be based on needs identified through teacher evaluations. This goal remained consistent between 2017 and 2019.
Evaluation Feedback: New Mexico requires written feedback within 10 days after an observation is complete. All teachers receive a written report of their annual evaluation. Only teachers rated minimally effective or ineffective are notified in writing of their right to have a conference with their evaluator.
Professional Development: New Mexico requires that professional development is tied to evaluation results for all teachers.
Improvement Plans: New Mexico requires professional growth plans for teachers who receive an evaluation rating of ineffective. Districts have the option of whether to put those who receive a rating of minimally effective on such a plan.
Evaluation Rating Categories: New Mexico requires five levels of performance: exemplary, meets competency; highly effective, meets competency; effective, meets competency; minimally effective, does not meet competency; and ineffective, does not meet competency.
Ensure that teachers receiving less-than-effective ratings are placed on a professional improvement plan.
New Mexico should strengthen its policy and require an improvement plan for any teacher whose performance is in need of improvement, not just those in the lowest performance category.
New Mexico recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added: "As the New Mexico Public Education Department looks to the future of teacher evaluation in New Mexico, the Educator Growth and Development Team will engage stakeholders across the state to ensure all voices are part of designing a new teacher evaluation system." Stakeholder engagement events will begin in late May and be held throughout the state.
7D: Linking Evaluation to Professional Growth
Professional development should be connected to needs identified through teacher evaluations. The goal of teacher evaluation systems should be not just to identify highly effective teachers and those who underperform but to help all teachers improve. Even highly effective teachers may have areas where they can continue to grow and develop their knowledge and skills. Rigorous evaluations should provide actionable feedback on teachers' strengths and weaknesses that can form the basis of professional development activities. Too often professional development is random rather than targeted to the identified needs of individual teachers. Failure to make the connection between evaluations and professional development squanders the likelihood that professional development will be meaningful.
Many states are only explicit about tying professional development plans to evaluation results if the evaluation results are bad. Good evaluations with meaningful feedback should be useful to all teachers, and if done right should help design professional development plans for all teachers—not just those who receive poor ratings.
To further increase the utility and validity of evaluation systems, states should require that evaluation instruments differentiate among various levels of teacher performance rather than only giving binary satisfactory/unsatisfactory ratings. Binary rating systems often offer little meaning because virtually all teachers receive satisfactory ratings. More rating categories allow for more nuanced distinctions between levels of teacher performance.