PRESS RELEASE - December 2, 2003
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

Majority of New Mexico's Core Academic Classes Are Taught by Highly Qualified Teachers

(Santa Fe, NM)--An analysis by the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) finds that a majority of the state's public school classrooms in the core academic subjects -- 77% -- are taught by highly qualified teachers as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. In high-poverty schools, the percentage is 71%.

“Our goal is 100% and we won’t rest until we get there. We know that the most powerful school factor in students’ educational success is their teachers. Highly qualified teachers are the first step to ensuring high-quality teaching and high student performance,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Veronica C. Garcia.

In New Mexico’s elementary schools 12,818 of 18,585 classes, or 69%, are taught by highly qualified teachers. In the state’s middle schools the percentage is 70.8% (14,948 of 21,108 classes) and in the high schools the percentage is 79.5% (22,886 out of 25,952 classes).

NCLB requires states to make public the percentage of classes in the core subjects taught by teachers who have a bachelor’s degree, state certification and demonstrated mastery of every subject they teach. Although 92% of New Mexico’s teachers are fully licensed by the state for the classes they teach, some still need to demonstrate additional content area expertise to be considered highly qualified.

Teachers whose qualifications are uncertain are elementary teachers who pre-date state teacher licensure testing, which began in 1983, and may have never taken the test and K-8 teachers teaching in middle schools if they are teaching outside of their concentration area and have not passed tests showing full knowledge of the subject area.

“Through our analysis, we have assured the greatest level of accuracy that is possible at this time. Local school districts supplied the data for our analysis through surveys and the Accountability Data System (ADS) and they will need to confirm our analysis. In the area of K-8 teachers, as is likely the case for most states, this confirmation could take a while,” said James Ball, director of the NMPED’s Professional Licensure Unit.

The NMPED provided this information to the U.S. Dept. of Education on November 28 following a two-month extension. On December 22, 2003, it will provide the U.S. Dept. of Education with the percentage of classes in the core academic subjects in low-poverty schools taught by highly qualified teachers.

NCLB considers highly qualified teachers to be those who either hold a bachelor’s degree in the subject taught or pass tests showing full knowledge of the topic. Every elementary classroom teacher and secondary school teacher of core subjects has to be highly qualified by the end of the 2005-06 school year. Newly hired teachers in schools that receive federal Title I money for disadvantaged students had to meet the criteria starting in 2002-03.

The core academic subjects are: fine arts (including music and visual arts), modern and classical languages (except Native American languages and cultures of New Mexico tribes or pueblos), language arts (including English), mathematics, reading, science and social studies (which includes civics, government, economics, history and geography).

According to data from the National Education Association (NEA), the percentage of classes taught by qualified teachers ranges nationally from 16% in Alaska to 99% in Wisconsin, with the percentage in high-poverty schools ranging from 16% in Alaska to 99% in Wyoming.

For educational assistants (EAs), NCLB requires 48 hours of postsecondary courses, an associate’s degree or passage of a test. Previously in New Mexico, EAs were required to hold a high school diploma, be 18 years old and have a training program provided by the school district. Since January 8, 2002, if an EA was working in Title I he or she had to meet the educational requirement. If hired before that date, he or she has until 2006 to meet the requirement, including the possibility of presenting a work portfolio. Twenty-four percent of EAs in Title I programs or schools in New Mexico now meet the requirements.

“EAs in New Mexico are being brought to a higher level of competency than has previously been required, both here and throughout the country. We are working in New Mexico through federal Title II, Part A, funding to support efforts to ensure the requirements for EAs are met,” said Ball.

According to additional data presented by New Mexico’s school districts, and reported to the U.S. Dept. of Education, 95% of teachers are receiving high-quality professional development.

The goals under NCLB and Secretary Garcia are to increase the percentages of classrooms taught by highly qualified teachers to 100% and to ensure that 100% of teachers are receiving high-quality professional development.

In response to this need, the NMPED has established the following targets:

Baseline Data and Targets
Percentage of Classes Taught by Highly Qualified Teachers STATE AGGREGATE
Percentage of Classes Taught by Highly Qualified Teachers HIGH-POVERTY SCHOOLS
2002-2003 Baseline 77% 71%
2003-2004 Target 85% 80%
2004-2005 Target 92% 90%
2005-2006 Target 100% 100%

 

Baseline Data and Targets Percentage of Qualified Title I Paraprofessionals
2002-2003 Baseline 24%
2003-2004 Target 49%
2004-2005 Target 75%
2005-2006 Target 100%

 

Baseline Data and Targets
Percentage of Teachers Receiving High-Quality Professional Development
2002-2003 Baseline

95%

2003-2004 Target 97%
2004-2005 Target 99%
2005-2006 Target 100%

Data on individual school districts will be released to the public at the end of January, following a district review of the NMPED’s analysis. Following that review, the data will be posted on the NMPED’s website at www.ped.state.nm.us.