APS/ATF Joint Memo On Evaluation Changes



September 2019


To:     All APS teachers and principals

From:     Todd Torgerson, Chief of Human Resources & Legal Support Services

Dr. Richard Bowman, Chief Information and Strategy Officer

Dr. Ellen Bernstein, ATF President


Re:     Changes in Teachers Evaluation systems for the 2019-2020 School year


The New Mexico Public Education Department’s (NMPED) Teacher Evaluation Task Force recently released recommendations and information about the interim teacher evaluation system. These changes are for this year only. This transitional year will allow the NMPED time to gather more input from the Task Force and other educators, and that input will help shape and design an evaluation system that is equitable, useful, and transparent to serve New Mexico educators for years to come.

Observation Rubric and Requirements

The transitional evaluation system, which replaces NMTeach, is called the NM Interim Feedback & Observation Plan. Administrators will use the Frontline Education Employee Evaluation Management system (the same website from last year) to enter and score observations, artifacts, and Professional Development Plans (PDP’s). The observations are to include “actionable and timely feedback” for teachers. The NMPED states the intent is, “to ensure that we are promoting teacher growth and development throughout the feedback processes.”

The domains remain the same. Domain 1: Planning and Preparation; Domain 2: Creating an Environment for Learning; Domain 3: Teaching for Learning; Domain 4: Professionalism.

The “effectiveness” labels will be replaced with 4 new classifications: Innovating, Applying, Developing, and Not Demonstrating. The former 5th category, “Exemplary,” has been stricken from the system because the elements were not observable classroom practices.

NMPED is recommending that teachers in Levels 2 & 3 have a minimum of one observation per year and Level 1 teachers have a minimum of two observations per year.

In our district, the formal observations should be scheduled as follows:

  • Level 1 teachers will have 2 formal observations, one in each semester, consisting of one scheduled and one unscheduled.
    • Please note: these labels have been intentionally changed to indicate that teachers are on a developmental continuum, and Level 1 teachers should know that it’s okay to be “Developing.”
  • Level 2 and 3 teachers will have at least 1 formal observation that can occur at any time.
    • During the pre-observation conference (as per Article 13 of the Negotiated Agreement), the principal and teacher may agree on whether the formal observation will be scheduled or unscheduled.
  • General information about observations and walkthroughs:
    • The walkthroughs are unscheduled.
    • If during a walkthrough a principal observes that a teacher is struggling, we are recommending that the formal observation be completed no later than the end of October. That way, if support is needed, it can be provided sooner rather than later.
    • Walkthroughs and formal observations, together, are intended to increase the evaluator’s knowledge of the teacher’s practice over time and to help inform scoring.
    • Please note that Article 13 of the APS/ATF Negotiated agreement states:
  • Teachers will be observed whenever there is a concern regarding performance.
  • Teachers may request to be observed at any time.


NMPED is requiring three scored walkthroughs. The walkthroughs are focused on providing “actionable and timely feedback.” Principals are not expected to focus on every element in Domains 2 and 3; they should only select a few. The scores captured on this form will NOT be included as a part of the teacher’s summative score. These forms are embedded in the NM Interim Feedback & Observation Plan built into Frontline. Building/District Administrators determine focus areas for walkthroughs.

Professional Development Plan (PDP)

Each educator’s completion of a yearly PDP is still an important requirement. As per our Negotiated Agreement, “A Professional Development Plan (PDP) is an individualized plan that is intended to improve teaching. Each plan should be unique to the goals and growth areas identified by the teacher and his or her supervisor. A PDP will be required of teachers every year. PDP’s may be written to extend over three years but must be initialed yearly. Information regarding the PDP will be shared with the teacher within forty (40) workdays after the beginning of the school year.”

Clarifications about Summative Evaluations for 2019-2020

Based on Task Force recommendations for the School Year 2019-20, the following changes were put in place:

  1. Student growth scores will not be included.
  2. Teacher attendance will not be included.

 Domains 1 and 4

There have been no changes to the process for evaluating Domains 1 and 4. As per our past APS/ATF Guidance:

Domain 1: (Planning and Preparation) is generally scored in the first semester:

  • Principals are required to score Domain 1 for each teacher. In order to do this, the principals must have evidence on each teacher’s planning.
  • One detailed lesson plan or unit plan that exemplifies the domain and the elements will be required from each teacher. If possible, provide the lesson that will be formally observed.
  • There is no mandated template for Domain 1.
  • Turning in detailed lesson plans weekly is not required for Domain 1.

Domain 4: (Professionalism) is best assessed over time, not a moment in time. Additional information about a teacher’s professionalism may be gathered informally during daily work, professional interactions, and walk-throughs.

  • Teachers are not required to keep evidence binders, however evidence and artifacts are required.
  • Teachers are not required to script their lessons, but principals may be scripting during observations.
  • Conversations between the principal and teacher are essential to ensure there is communication concerning evidence in the domains.

The rubrics for each domain have also been released and can be viewed here:

Components of the Evaluation System  (as delineated in the NMPED memos, and the domains that pertain to each):

  • Required Walkthrough # 1 (Domains 2 & 3) is to be completed in the first 45 days of the school year or the first 45 days of employment. Ideally, it should be performed before the PDP is due. Walkthrough forms are the same as the formal observation forms. The NMPED’s guidance focuses on “Actionable and Timely Feedback” affording educators the opportunity to improve their practice with no threat of an unchangeable score. The scores captured on this form will NOT be included as a part of the teacher’s summative evaluation.
  • Professional Development Plan (PDP) is a tool for Teacher Self-Evaluation. Teachers are to complete a Beginning of the Year PDP: Goal Setting form, which will be due within the first 45 days of school (or first 45 days of employment). The scores on this rubric are NOT tied to the teacher’s summative score but provide an opportunity to become familiar with the Domains and the tasks required to fulfill the evaluation demands. There is an optional Mid-Year PDP Review form. The PDP component concludes with the End of the Year PDP Reflection form due by May 22, 2020.
  • Required Walkthrough #2 (Domains 2 & 3) is due by December 10, 2019. The scores captured on this form will NOT be included as part of the teacher’s summative score. This walkthrough is meant to provide actionable and timely feedback.
  • Required Walkthrough #3 (Domains 2 & 3) is due by May 8, 2020. The scores captured on this form will NOT be included as part of the teacher’s summative score. This walkthrough is meant to provide actionable and timely feedback.
  • Professional Responsibilities (Domain 1): Administrators will complete a Domain 1 Scoring Form and the Domain 1 Frontline Artifact Collection form by December 10, 2019 and finalize it by May 22, 2020. The teacher can review their scores and acknowledge the form. The evaluator should also provide actionable feedback to the teacher. The evaluator should schedule a time to share actionable feedback with the educator within ten days of completing the observation.
  • Domains 2 & 3 Observation: Teachers will submit a Pre-Observation form and a Post-Observation Reflection formAdministrators will submit notes and scores for the observation, due by May 8, 2020.
  • Professional Responsibilities (Domain 4): Administrators will submit a Scoring Form and Frontline Artifact Collection form, due by May 8, 2020.
  • End of Year Summary Reflection is to be submitted as a self-reflection by the Teacher and there will also be an End of the Year Summary submitted by the evaluator, due by May 8, 2020.

Improvement Plans

The only change from previous years will be for Level 1 teachers, especially in the first year of teaching. As noted above, scoring a “2” is acceptable in the first year.

Level Number of observations Timing of formal observations Scores for Domains 2 and 3 that determine the need for an improvement plan

1 (1st year)



Fall and Spring

(1 scheduled,

1 unscheduled)

None – teacher receives mentorship and onsite support
(2nd year) 2 Fall and Spring

(1 scheduled,

1 unscheduled)

Site Plan: 2.4 – 2.9

District Plan: below 2.4

1 (3 + years) 2 Fall and Spring

(1 scheduled,

1 unscheduled)

Site Plan: 2.5 – 2.9

District Plan: below 2.5

2 1 Scheduled Site Plan: 2.5 – 2.9

District Plan: below 2.5

3 1 Scheduled Site: 2.5 – 2.9

District: below 2.5



Support for principals in writing Improvement Plans is provided by Ree Chacon, PAR Coordinator. Contact Ree at chacon_am@aps.edu, or 253-0335, ext. 67055.

Teachers who are struggling with any aspect of their work who are interested in Voluntary Consulting Teacher Support should contact the ATF at 262-2657, the PAR Coordinator (see above), or the Mentor Program Coordinator Michelle Lemons (lemons_m@aps.edu).

Next Year

The Task Force will roll out a more comprehensive system for School Year 2020-21 and beyond. They will provide final recommendations to the Secretary of Education and the Governor by the early spring of 2020. You can find the most current information at the NMPED’s Educator Growth and Development website as this work progresses.