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VAMboozled!: New Mexico Teachers Burn Their State-Based Teacher Evaluations

More than three dozen teachers,”including many who [had] just been rated “highly effective” by the New Mexico Public Education Department, working in the Albuquerque Public School District – the largest public school district in the state of New Mexico – turned to a burning bin this week, tossing their state-developed teacher evaluations into the fire in protest in front of district headquarters.

See the full article (with picture below) in The Albuquerque Journal here.

mkb050815h/metro/Marla Brose/050815 Linnea Montoya, a kindergarten teacher at Montezuma Elementary, drops her teacher evaluation into a waste basket with other burning evaluations in front of Albuquerque Public Schools headquarters, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in Albuquerque, N.M. A group of teachers filled the entrance to APS to participate in the teacher evaluation protest. "It insulted my fellow teachers who mentored me and scored lower," Montoya said. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

“Courtney Hinman ignited the blaze by taking a lighter to his “effective” evaluation. He was quickly followed by a “minimally effective” special education teacher from Albuquerque High School, then by a “highly effective” teacher from Monte Vista Elementary School. Wally Walstrom, also of Monte Vista Elementary, told the crowd of 60 or 70 people that his “highly effective” rating was “meaningless,” before tossing it into the fire. One after another, teachers used the words “meaningless” and “unfair” to describe the evaluations and the process used to arrive at those judgments…Another teacher said the majority of his autistic, special-needs students failed the SBA – a mandatory assessment test – yet he was judged “highly effective. ‘How can that be?’ he asked as he dropped his evaluation into the fire.”

“An English teacher said he was judged on student progress – in algebra and geometry.

Another said she had taught a mere two months, yet was evaluated as if she had been in the classroom for an entire school year. Several said their scores were lowered only because they were sick and stayed away from school. One woman said parents routinely say she’s the best teacher their children have ever had, yet she was rated ‘minimally effective.’ An Atrisco Heritage teacher said most of the math teachers there had been judged ‘minimally effective.’ And a teacher of gifted children who routinely scored at the top in assessment testing asked, ‘How could they advance?’ before tossing his “highly effective” evaluation into the blaze.”

With support from New Mexico’s Governor Susana Martinez, New Mexico teacher evaluation systems’ master creator – Education Secretary Hanna Skandera’s – could not be reached for comment.

Read the full article, again, here, and read more about what else is going on in New Mexico in prior posts on VAMboozled! here, here, here, and here.)

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Audrey Amrein-Beardsley

Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, a former middle- and high-school mathematics teacher, received her Ph.D. in 2002 from Arizona State University in the Division of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with an emphasis on Research Methods. Awarded tenure in 2010 as an ASU Presidential Exemplar, she is currently a Professor in the Mary Lou...