The following appeared in the same paper today, the Albuquerque Journal. The first is about how Colorado teachers accept the new evaluation system and the second is how neighboring New Mexico teachers reject it.
Colo. teachers on board with new systemT.S. Last / Journal Staff Writer7 hours ago
Mike Wetzel, a spokesman for the Colorado Education Association, the state affiliate of the NEA, said the union originally opposed SB 10-191, the 2010 law that put the teacher evaluation plan in place. But since it became law, the union that represents approximately 30,000 Colorado teachers is moving ahead with the new plan.
“It’s the law now, and we believe we need to make this the best law we can for students, teachers, principals and everyone involved in the system,” he said. “We want this system to be a tool for teachers and principals to raise performance.”
Wetzel said teachers were at first concerned about how evaluations could be used against them, but the union has stressed the benefits of the feedback they get from them.
He said teachers still feel a fair amount of anxiety over the system, because it’s something new, “but what we’ve done is, we’ve tried to lessen that anxiety with training across the state. We find the more information teachers get, the anxiety lessens.”
The Colorado model is similar to New Mexico’s in that 50 percent of the evaluation is based on student academic growth using test scores.
But while classroom observations count for 25 percent of a teacher’s evaluation in New Mexico, under the Colorado model, observations are just part of the second half of the evaluation, which is supposed to measure “professional practice.”
“In order to fill out our rubric, there would be some measure of observation, but there’s really no way to quantify it as a percentage,” said Katy Anthes, executive director of educator effectiveness for the Colorado Department of Education.
Anthes said there’s a learning curve for everyone involved, but it seems the state’s educators are beginning to grasp it.
Wetzel said one reason teachers have been accepting the new plan was that they were involved in the process of developing it. Input was taken from teachers and three teachers served on the state’s Council for Educator Effectiveness that helped design the system.
“If I had any advice for New Mexico, I think it would be that the teachers’ voices are critical,” he said. “This is not something that should be done to teachers, but something that should be done with teachers.”
Collaboration, helps create a system that “improves the practice of teaching … the results you get will be better for students, and that’s what everybody wants – what’s best for kids.”