General Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should require teacher preparation programs to admit only candidates with strong academic records and support programs to encourage greater numbers of qualified individuals of color to become teachers. This goal was ungraded in 2020.
GPA/Testing Requirement: New Mexico no longer requires a candidate undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75 on a 4.0 scale or passage of all NMTA essential academic skills tests prior to admission. New statutory language requires that educator preparation programs shall "shall establish rigorous entry requirements, including a successful completion of the department's required background check and approval process."
Diversity Programs: New Mexico has a teacher residency pilot program. Competitive grants are available to educator preparation programs to develop a teacher residency program that "will address diversity, quality, and the needs of high needs partner schools and districts with large Native American and EL populations."
New Mexico Administrative Code 5.7.35 and 220.127.116.11 Request for Application Teacher Residency Pilot 6/30/19 https://webnew.ped.state.nm.us/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/RFA-for-Teacher-Residency-5_24_19.pdf
Require that teacher preparation programs screen candidates for academic proficiency prior to admission.
Teacher preparation programs that do not screen candidates invest considerable resources in individuals who may not be able to successfully complete the program, pass licensing tests, and ultimately succeed in the classroom. Candidates in need of additional support should complete remediation before entering the program to avoid the possibility of an unsuccessful investment of significant public resources. New Mexico should require candidates to pass a test of academic proficiency that assesses reading, mathematics, and writing prior to program admission that is normed to the general college-going population. Alternatively, the state could require a minimum grade point average of at least 3.0 for individuals or 3.2 for cohorts of accepted candidates in order to establish that prospective teachers have a strong academic history.
Consider requiring candidates to pass subject-matter tests as a condition of admission into teacher programs.
In addition to ensuring that programs require a measure of academic performance for admission, New Mexico may also consider requiring subject-matter testing prior to program admission, rather than at the point of program completion. Doing so would provide candidates lacking sufficient subject-matter expertise with an opportunity to remedy deficits prior to entering formal preparation.
New Mexico was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts necessary for this analysis. Although the state no longer requires a specific GPA, New Mexico noted that, "based on Title II data for the 2017-18 academic school year, the majority of approved educator preparation programs required a minimum GPA of at least 2.75 and the median GPA of individuals accepted into approved New Mexico Educator Preparation Programs in 2017-18 was 3.41."
New Mexico also noted that it is currently supporting four teacher residency pilots which serve under-served areas and focus on certifying teachers of color. These residency pilots were designed to promote innovation in the critical area of certifying teachers of color to support New Mexico's education pipeline.
New Mexico indicated that beginning in the 2019-2020 academic year, the state launched the "Grow Your Own Teachers" program. This program seeks to provide opportunities for educational assistants to pursue careers in teaching in New Mexico by providing scholarship opportunities for educational assistants who may want to attend a public post-secondary educational institution in New Mexico to earn a bachelor's degree in education. The program provides for professional leave and scholarship awards to qualified educational assistants. According to the state, the scholarship is intended to help defray the educational expenses charged by the institution including tuition, fees, books and course supplies. Additionally, New Mexico noted that during the 2017-18 school year, 52.5% of all employed educational assistants working in New Mexico identify as Hispanic, 6% as Native American, and 2.2% as Black.
Evidence is strong that countries whose students consistently outperform U.S. students set a much higher bar for entry to teacher preparation programs than what is typically found in the United States. Far from the top third or even top tenth to which more selective countries limit candidates, most states do not even aim for the top 50 percent. Previous analysis has shown that many states do not require that preparation programs evaluate candidates' academic proficiency as a condition of admission to teacher preparation at all; most others set a low bar by requiring basic skills tests that generally assess middle school-level skills or by requiring a minimum GPA, but too few demand at least a 3.0.
In addition to the low skill level tested by current basic skills tests (e.g., the Praxis Core), another concern is that they are normed only to the prospective teacher population, which does not allow for comparability between prospective teachers and the entire college-bound population. Tests normed to the general college-bound population would shine a clearer light on the academic proficiency of those admitted to teacher preparation programs and allow programs to be truly selective.
While a positive start, CAEP standards are no substitute for states' own policies. CAEP's standards require that the group average performance on nationally normed ability assessments such as ACT, SAT, or GRE be in the top 50th percentile. However, CAEP allows programs the unnecessary freedom to determine whether the minimum criteria will be measured prior to admissions or at some point during the program. Clear state admission policies would send an unequivocal message to programs about the state's expectations for high admissions standards.
Research is clear about the positive effects of teachers with stronger academic backgrounds on student achievement. Higher teacher selectivity, as measured by factors such as SAT/ACT scores, GPA prior to program admission, and an institute of higher education's (IHE) general competitiveness or selectivity, has a significant, positive correlation with student achievement. Some studies support higher academic admissions standards for entry into TPPs, including studies showing a relationship between student achievement and teachers' verbal ability or selectivity of the teachers' college. Although research supports applying greater selectivity when admitting teacher candidates, some recent work has found no correlation between teachers' scores on tests normed to the general college-bound population (e.g., SAT, ACT) or IHE selectivity and student achievement.
States should support increased diversity in the teacher pipeline, in addition to maintaining high admissions standards for teacher preparation programs. Recent data show that 49 percent of students in the US were students of color, while only 17 percent of teachers were teachers of color. Twenty-eight states had gaps between the percentage of students and educators of color that were greater than 25 percentage points. A growing body of research suggests that students of color—students who often face the largest achievement gaps—benefit from having same-race teachers. Exposure to same-race teachers positively benefits student achievement, teachers' expectations and perceptions of students, teachers' assessments and perceptions of student behavior, students' rates of suspension and expulsion, students' assignment to Gifted and Talented programs, and students' perceptions of teachers. Some research suggests that teachers of the same race as their students are more likely to reduce high-school dropout rates as well as increase student attendance and college attendance intent, and improve discipline. Moreover, white students report that they favor teachers of color.