PRESS RELEASE - September 30, 2003
New Mexico State Department
of Education

300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

More New Teachers Being Retained in New Mexico Schools

(Santa Fe, NM)--The proof is in the numbers. With a decrease in the number of new teachers this year, the New Mexico State Department of Education (SDE) said today that initiatives to retain teachers are beginning to work. "Strategies to improve teacher quality, the state's new three-tiered licensure system, Return to Work options for retired teachers and the state's mandatory beginning teacher mentorship programs are doing what they were designed to do – retain teachers in our schools," said James Ball, director of the SDE's Professional Licensure Unit.

According to an analysis by the SDE, the number of beginning teachers in the state has decreased from 2,479 in 2002 to 2,257 in 2003. Out of the state’s 89 public school districts, 36 are reporting fewer beginning teachers as compared to last year, 17 report the same number and 21 report a slight increase (less than five) in the number of beginning teachers. Only 15 districts report a sizeable increase in the number of beginning teachers as compared to last year.

“New Mexico’s quality initiatives, like the beginning teacher mentorship programs, are doing what the national data has indicated they would – helping to reduce the loss of new teachers. They are essential to attracting and retaining a quality teaching force,” Ball said.

Over the past three years, with support from the Legislature, districts have worked to develop and implement beginning teacher mentorship and induction programs to improve practical teaching abilities, knowledge, skills and performance and reduce teachers stress, burnout and attrition. This year, 81 of the state’s 89 public school districts are sharing in $900,000 appropriated by the Legislature for 2003-2004. (The eight remaining districts do not have any beginning teachers.) And all 89 districts have an approved mentorship program on file with the SDE for their beginning teachers.

Under the new three-tiered licensure system approved by the New Mexico State Board of Education in August, all new teachers (Level I) must complete a mentorship program in order to advance to Level II licensure. The system carries forward the requirements of the Legislature’s Beginning Teacher Mentoring Law and the SBE’s mentorship rule, both approved in 2001, and provides for licensure advancement through Levels I, II and III using a High Objective Uniform Standard of Evaluation (HOUSE) that gauges teachers’ abilities to impact student achievement.

The SDE and Commission on Higher Education concluded work in 2002 on a $2.4 million federal Teacher Quality Enhancement State Grant that addressed teacher recruitment, preparation, induction and professional development. Also in 2002, the SDE began implementing a five-year, $2.5 million federal Transition to Teaching Grant to encourage the development and expansion of alternative routes to teacher certification.

To view the report of numbers of beginning teachers for 2002 and 2003 respectively by district click here.