Governor Susana Martinez joined education leaders from several colleges and universities on recently to announce key reforms aimed at supporting teacher and principal preparation programs. These new initiatives will raise standards to better prepare teachers and will also allow teacher preparation programs to receive report cards based on how well their graduates help K-12 students learn. Every year, six schools of education from around the state graduate about 1,000 students who become teachers in New Mexico classrooms.

“We know teachers make all the difference when it comes to helping our students and we want our future teachers to be better prepared for the opportunity ahead,” said Martinez. “These leaders from our colleges and universities have come together to raise the standards and to bolster support for our future teachers. Their efforts will make all the difference for the students of New Mexico.”

These new reforms, developed by a workgroup consisting of college and university presidents, deans and regents, will include a new ranking system which will classify schools of education based upon several factors including performance of alumni during the first three years of their career. Graduates who increase student achievement and continue to advance in their career will increase rankings for their former college or university. The first sets of rankings are expected to be released by the end of 2014.

“There is no doubt that good teachers and principals matter,” said New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera. “Studies show after two years of an effective teacher, in an effective school, an average student can perform in the 96th percentile. Our students deserve the opportunity to be great and our teachers deserve the support to reach that goal.”

Another key reform will raise academic standards for those looking to become teachers. Currently, one of the main requirements to become a teacher is to pass the New Mexico Teacher Assessment – Basic Skills Exam (NMTA) an 8th grade level exam with a passing score that was set in the late 1990’s at the 16th percentile. Education leaders from New Mexico’s colleges and universities are working to improve the exam so it is more aligned with national standards already in use in many other states.

“In order to improve the outcomes and overall well-being of our State’s young people, we must develop and sustain a pipeline of educators and school leaders who reflect New Mexico’s population and are dedicated to improving educational outcomes of our next generations,” University of New Mexico President Robert Frank said. “I would like to extend our profound thanks to Governor Martinez and Secretary Skandera for their support in this area; it reflects our common goal to offer the best instruction to our education professionals, which in turn benefits the children and communities we are preparing them to serve.”

“We are dedicated to the success of New Mexico’s students,” said NMSU President Garrey Carruthers. “That’s why New Mexico State University has been an active participant with Secretary Hanna Skandera and this workgroup to assess and improve teacher preparation. The outcomes of this process will assist us in preparing the best possible teachers at all levels of the education continuum.”

Earlier this year, Martinez secured $4.65 million in funding to offer to colleges and universities to better support future teachers. These funds will be used to establish new teacher and principal preparation programs within existing schools of education to support students with research based practices to be better prepared for a career in the classroom.

Tuesday’s announcement is the product of months of work by a group of nearly 30 members including Presidents, Provosts and regents from New Mexico’s four-year universities offering teaching degrees.