Evaluation Changes

The New Mexico Public Education Department’s (PED) Teacher Evaluation Task Force recently released recommendations and information about the interim teacher evaluation system. These changes are for this year only. The intent is to allow PED to gather input from the Task Force and other educators and take time to design a just and equitable evaluation system that is useful and transparent to serve New Mexico educators for many years.

The evaluation system will not be called NMTeach anymore. For now, it 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 (PDPs). The observations are to include “actionable and timely feedback” to teachers. The PED’s memo says that this is to “ensure that we are promoting teacher growth and development throughout the feedback processes”.

The “effectiveness” labels of the Martinez Administration will no longer be used. They will be replaced with 4 new classifications: Innovating, Applying, Developing, and Not Demonstrating. The former 5thcategory, “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. Districts may add additional observations as they deem necessary. PED is telling districts that there will be three required “walkthroughs” that focus on feedback around the elements of the domains and the observation rubric, but these will not be scored as part of teachers’ summative evaluations.

Each educator’s completion of a yearly PDP is still an important requirement. The rubrics for each domain have also been released and can be viewed here:

NMPED is finalizing the calculation for summative scores and plan to have this completed by September 9th. Training for new administrators is scheduled for September 11-13.

Here are the components of the Evaluation System, as delineated in the NM PED 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.It should ideally be performed before the PDP is due. “Actionable and Timely Feedback” should be the name of the game on all three walkthrough observations, affording educators the opportunity to improve their practice with no threat of “the got ya”. The scores captured on this form will NOT be included as a part of the teacher's summative evaluation.
  • Professional Development Plan is a tool for Teacher Self-Evaluation. Teachers are to complete a Beginning of the Year PDP: Goal Settingform which will be due within the first 45 days of school (or first 45 days of employment). The scores on this rubric aren’t 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 will be a Mid-Year PDP Review form, which is optional, and an 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 observer should also provide actionable feedback to the teacher. The observer 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-Observationform and Post-Observation Reflection form.Administrators 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 by the Evaluator due by May 8, 2020.

Rest assured, as soon as more information becomes available, your union will keep you in the know. ATF President Ellen Bernstein and AFT-NM President Stephanie Ly are both members of the Task Force and will push for fairness and meaningful feedback. You can bet that ATF will advocate for a just and equitable evaluation system for all certified educators in our on-going endeavor to build a world-class educational system in New Mexico.

 


Sick Leave Bank: Union-Created, Employee-Owned

Prior to 1993, when APS educators ran out of sick leave because of a catastrophic illness or injury, they were financially on their own. When they used up their sick leave they were left with only one choice—leave without pay. Stress about paying the bills compounded the effects of their debilitation, as they were left to wonder how they would make ends meet without the paycheck they had come to rely on. Co-workers looked on with concern and asked why there was no mechanism through which they could donate their own sick leave to help a colleague in need.

That’s when the benefits of having a strong union to negotiate for us kicked in.  Albuquerque Teachers Federation negotiated the creation of the employee-owned Sick Leave Bank (SLB). The SLB relies on small contributions from those of us who are healthy enough to work. The value of the peace of mind and financial stability for educators in recovery cannot be calculated. Just $5.75 per paycheck ensures that, collectively, we are able to help those who have exhausted their sick leave because of a catastrophic illness or injury.

The Sick Leave Bank is available to all employees covered by the APS/ATF Negotiated Agreement. It exemplifies one of the basic tenets of unionism: all boats should rise together. For this small contribution, our co-workers and their families can rest assured that they can hold out and keep their bills at bay until they return to work serving our students.

Open enrollment for Sick Leave Bank began August 1, 2019 and ends October 31, 2019. SLB Guidelines can be picked up at 6400 Uptown Blvd. NE, Suite 210 East or downloaded from the APS website  or at ATF's website. Call APS's Sick Leave Bank Specialist at 889-4858 for more information.

This is just one more great benefit of our union’s advocacy.  Not a member yet? Join now!


Student Debt Clinics Return!

Albuquerque Teachers Federation will host Student Loan Debt Clinics this month on two back-to-back dates: Tuesday, September 17th and Wednesday, September 18th. Both have 4:30pm start times. The American Federation of Teachers-created clinics will be facilitated by local union members. The purpose of the clinic is to inform ATF members about options for loan repayment and forgiveness.

“We know that student loan debt is a huge concern for our members,” said ATF President Ellen Bernstein. “Helping our members with their student loan debt is union work.”

A study conducted by our national union, the American Federation of Teachers, reported that AFT members are increasingly losing sleep over their student loans; they’ve made decisions between buying groceries and paying medical expenses or paying off their loan debt. Dozens have even reported thoughts of suicide.

Our union is doing our part to help alleviate some of the stress.

Participants in the ATF Student Loan Debt Clinic have left with a renewed sense of hope after receiving clear information from our trainers. The debunking of loan myths and common misconceptions coupled with clear guidance from our trainers has set members on a path to loan forgiveness.

Our ATF Student Loan Debt Clinics are for ATF members only. This is just one of the many benefits of union membership. If you are not a member of ATF, join now.

To register for one of the debt clinics, click here. Select “NEW MEXICO: Albuquerque Teachers Federation 09/17/2019” or “NEW MEXICO: Albuquerque Teachers Federation 09/18/2019” from the drop down menu.

 


APS/ATF Special Education Task Force Makes Progress

“It takes a lot of time and effort to change broken systems. Nothing changes without collective advocacy.”- ATF President Dr. Ellen Bernstein

Thursday, August 22, 2019, was a sweltering dog day with near-record heat, as special educators filed into the APS Berna Facio Professional Development Complex to discuss recent progress made by the APS/ATF Special Education Task Force. Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein and other members of the joint task force discussed the agreements with district officials while other special educators from across the city asked clarifying questions and shared insights. Two changes in special education practices were highlighted as great steps forward in addressing educator concerns.

  • The first was an agreement to use the PED’s Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Program (BIP) process and paperwork requirements. This will cut workloads for educators attempting to address behavioral concerns for students and to secure social work services for at-risk students. It was also agreed that an FBA/BIP is not required before requesting a referral for a social/emotional evaluation for School Social Work services.

 

  • The second agreement was to re-establish district-wide special education Instructional Councils for a wide variety of teachers and service providers, establishing democratic means to address issues within the Special Education Department.

Both changes were a long time coming and way overdue. These agreements are the culmination of 2 ½ years of union educator advocacy. On behalf of our members, we had long been trying to address what looked like a broken system in the APS Special Education Department, decrying excessive workloads, poor communication between district administration and special education providers, the constant addition of mandated work as the district reacted to lawsuits, and the district’s reticence to put mandates into writing or provide support for educators to meet new mandates.

To address these issues, ATF started a Special Education Committee which began meetings with the APS Special Education Department administration in January of 2017.

Some agreements were made in the early 2017 meetings, but there was a lack of follow through from the district and no headway was made toward systemic change. Abrupt mandates continued to flow from district administrations, systems were still glaringly broken, and staff workloads increased with no additional support or guidance given.

The problems continued to simmer into 2018 with high-level talks between the ATF President and district administration stalling. Union President Ellen Bernstein felt that the district was unwilling to listen to the concerns of educators.

The issue that finally pushed educators to demand action involved changes in the FBA/BIP paperwork. As a result of new mandates, the two-page form became a 30-page behemoth that taxed educators’ time and delayed the provision of services for very needy students. Special educators were also told that no child could receive social work services without the implementation of an FBA/BIP. Educators were fed up.

In frustration, the ATF Fed Rep Council debated a Vote of No Confidence against the APS Special Education Department administration. 30 special educators, all union members, joined President Bernstein to speak at the Board of Education meeting. Superintendent Raquel Reedy said that she heard their concerns clearly.

In meetings with our union president, the superintendent agreed to jointly commission a Sanderoff Poll to measure employee satisfaction and expose trouble spots that were driving educators out of APS and pushing morale to an all-time low. The poll was conducted in the summer of 2018 and its results were no shock to ATF leadership or educators across the district. The results indicated widespread dissatisfaction with educators’ work environments, low morale, and a deep frustration with poor communications.

Although 85% of special educators polled believed their jobs serving students are meaningful and 74% were satisfied with the work they do with students, only 42% recommended APS as a good place to work.  Respondents pointed to low morale and major workload issues, excessive paperwork, little time for lesson planning and preparation, and a lack of compensation for additional time spent working outside the contract day.  The source of these troubles became apparent.

While 81% of participants believed they were treated fairly by their immediate supervisor (principals, assistant principals, and other site administrators) educators consistently attached their dissatisfaction to a lack of collaboration between district administration and staff, poor communication between APS Special Ed. Dept. administrators and staff, lack of training in curricula and instructional strategies, and constant mandated changes in policies and procedures that were not put in writing.

A confirmation of these findings came through a September 2018 visit from Council of Great City Schools. The Council found that the district has many assets that are being under-used such as talented and dedicated staff, the Child Find program, a focus on not over-identifying EL students and the vast majority of special education evaluations being completed on time. However, they noted a special education population that was higher than the national average, students taught in overly segregated settings, students in special education using markedly different materials than their general education counterparts, a weak professional development system in the district, extremely poor district communication, a low level of trust in APS administration on the part of ATF, lack of a district-wide positive behavior system, low numbers of school psychologists, and poorly executed parent engagement.

The Council recommended a focused district-wide positive-behavior system, more cooperation between the district, the union, and local higher education institutions, a clearly defined Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) focusing on prevention of academic and behavioral problems, the alignment of academic supports for all students, greater accountability of district administration, school-based leadership alignment, and differentiated PD options for educators.  The Council noted that administrators lacked a common vision and teachers lacked the support of mid-level administrators. APS was found to need a uniform district-wide SAT process.

These findings and recommendations validated many of the educators’ assertions. Furthermore, special education staff spoke of their exclusion from decision-making. “We know that when people don’t believe they have influence, they become disengaged,”  said Dr. Bernstein.

Taking the two studies above into account, the district and the union set up the Special Education Joint Task Force which began meeting in January 2019.  Once again, educators on the panel felt frustrated and talks almost broke down early on because educators felt that APS administration was stalling on making significant commitments to change. Union leadership even contemplated reviving the No Confidence vote. Continued pressure from ATF finally prevailed as the Task Force continued their work through the summer.

As a result of the union’s perseverance, Instructional Councils (ICs), the cornerstone of democratic decision-making in our worksites and schools, will be re-instated on a district level for several special education role groups.  ICs for Social Workers, Speech and Language Therapists, Transition Specialists, Head Special Ed. Teachers, Evaluators (School Psychologists, Diagnosticians, SLP & OT Evaluators) and Motor Therapists (OT, PT, OMS, APE) are now guaranteed the same rights as their counterparts at school sites.

Another win ATF extracted from this joint task force work is that starting in August 2019, we have agreed to use the NM PED’s established BIP/FBA process. This will eliminate mounds of paperwork for educators and streamline procedures to secure needed services to students. An FBA/BIP is no longer required before requesting a referral for a social/emotional evaluation for School Social Work services. However, if a school team chooses, they can continue to use the 2018-19 FBA/BIP process and forms.

Special Education Role Group Instructional Councils will meet on the 1stand 3rd Thursdays of each month from 4:30-6:30pm. ATF will facilitate the elections for representatives from each of the above listed role groups. If you would like to self-nominate for a Special Education Instructional Council, you can do so here.

We would like to thank the ATF members who worked so diligently toward these wins.


HOW TO CHECK YOUR CHECK

How to Check Your Check

Pay Issues? Want to know if you are being paid the correct amount? Use this method.

1) Download the salary matrices at : https://atfunion.org/download/2019-2020-salary-matrices/.  In this example, the educator is on the AT3 Schedule for Level 3 teachers, nurses, counselors, social workers and interpreters.

2) Then, move down the chart to your step (usually completed years of service + 1). This number is your annual salary step for the current school year. Next, find your appropriate column by referencing your highest degree and any additional credit hours you’ve verified with APS.

3) In this example, the Level 3 educator has a MA+15 and is on Step 23 (just started their 23rd year). The educator’s base pay should be $61,344. Note: This amount does not include differentials for selling prep, working in a high needs placement (SES, IGS, etc.), TESOL delivery, National Boards, etc. This is your base salary.

4) Divide your yearly salary by 26 (number of checks per year). In this example $61,344 divided by 26 = $2359.38.

5) The answer to your division problem should be represented on your APS check in the top left box on the line that says “Regular” in the column that says “Amount”.

6) To double check your check, take this amount and multiply it by 26. It should equal your basesalary ($2,359.39 x 26 = $61,344.14).

Members who discover an irregularity in the amount of their check, can report it here https://leadernet.aft.org/webform/irregularities-august-16-2019-paycheck. ATF staff will work with APS payroll to help each member with a pay problem. If you are not yet a member of your union, click here to join .


CONTRACTUAL CHANGES RATIFIED

The APS Board of Education voted to approve the 2019-20 APS/ATF Negotiated Agreement.  We thank members Barbara Petersen, Yolanda Montoya-Cordova, Lorenzo Garcia, Dave Peercy, Elizabeth Armijo and Candy Patterson for moving our district forward with their “yes” vote.  District 2 Member Peggy Muller-Aragon voted against our contract.

This follows the resounding approval of our contract by Albuquerque Public Schools educators who cast a "yes" vote of 98.4%.

We celebrate our union’s victories as we move into the new school year. However, we still have much work left to ensure that all educators in our bargaining unit receive equal pay and work in the best teaching and learning conditions possible.  We can only achieve these goals by working together and standing in solidarity.  If you are not yet a member, now is the time to join.  If you are a member, get involved and we will work to achieve the respect our profession deserves.

ATF’s Negotiating Team worked through the Spring and Summer with representatives of Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) to reach this tentative agreement on raises for all licensed employees, as well as language changes that will improve our professional working conditions.

The money for raises allocated during the 2019 Legislative Session was substantial, and we are grateful for the long overdue increases for all teachers on the 3-Tiered Licensure System. The Legislature increased the 3-tiered minimum salaries for teachers to $41,000, $50,000, and $60,000. This equates to between a 10.8% and 14.3% increase. (In dollar amounts, this is about $5,000 to $6,000).

Unfortunately, this funding for educator raises was both unfair and unequal. Approximately 1,200 of the most experienced teachers in APS, and all the “other licensed staff,” were allocated less than half of that amount—they were only provided a 6% pay increase. The “other licensed staff” includes over 800 additional employees who work as counselors, social workers, nurses, interpreters, special education therapists/therapy assistants, and audiologists. These essential and related service educators provide crucial services to our students.

For more than 14 years, ATF has worked tirelessly for all Essential and Related Service Educators, and again, we are proud to have successfully negotiated salaries for them equal to their teaching peers. The equity in the 3-Tiered minimums equates to an average of $2,700 more for this role group than the state appropriated.

ATF also successfully negotiated a 7% increase for all experienced educators, diagnosticians, school psychologists, and transition specialists—over $500 more than the state allocated.

Click here to view the 2019-2020 Salary Matrices

A summary of the Changes in the APS/ATF Negotiated Agreement:

Equipment for Nurses and Psychologists

The updates to the language recognize school psychologists as a group guaranteeing basic equipment. School nurses’ equipment now includes a locking cabinet for medications!

Short term employees

Short term employees are no longer automatically “pink-slipped”. If the short term position is continuing the next year, short term employees can more easily get hired on a regular contract.

Process for lost preparation and lunch time and clean up

Outlines the process for payment for lost prep time or lost duty free lunch time. Educators that are affected need to fill out a timesheet for time lost. Timesheets are available through the payroll department and must be signed by the principal and the principal’s supervisor.

Higher Ed Experience Clarification

Clears up language for calculation of higher ed experience and allows for adding multiple years of experience to qualify as towards the 570 hours (one year).

Mileage

Changed to DFA rate to match practice.

National Board Certified Educators Differential

Updated to $6,848.11.

Updates to Instructional Council language

Updates language and clarifies discretionary budget funded positions. Re-establishes Special Education At-Large Instructional Councils.

Changes to Mentor/PAR Programs

Clarifies language of length of PAR requirements. Clarifies differentials for mentor teachers. Added language to include the PAR Coordinator in decisions for each specific recommendation to help ensure it is the correct action for that individual teacher. Mostly clean-up changes.

Updates to the Career Pathway System

Changed the name from Support and Related Services Personnel (S&RSP) to Essential and Related Service Educators (E&RSE). The new title, E&RSE, more accurately reflects the impact and contributions to students. Our counselors, social workers, nurses, interpreters, SLPs, OTs, PTs, Audiologists, and Orientation and Mobility Specialists are all highly valued educators! Language added to allow 90% employees(COTAs and PTAs) to move up the Career Pathway System.

Streamlined payment for special education teacher case overload.

Removes previous language requiring teachers to fill out timesheets in order to get paid for additional services. Language added to streamline payment process for additional services. The new language no longer requires teachers to fill out timesheets. Instead, overload compensation will be calculated four times per year and teachers will automatically be paid in four lump sums based on caseloads as reported in Synergy.

Waiver for over 3 preps in High School

Language added to provide an official form for secondary teachers who agree to teach more than three preps. This agreement must be on a yearly basis and the form must be filled out each year.

Updates to leaves language

Adds language to include great-grandchild, great-grandparent, niece, and nephew as immediate family members. Adds language about when sick leave starts and can be used. Language added to include passed legislation (SB157) that provides a process of converting unused sick leave to earned service credit.

Click here to view the language changes to the Negotiated Agreement

Appendix A: Salary Matrices

(Posted in separate PDF)

Appendix B

Discontinuation of Waiver on Class Size Requirements for SY 2019-2020

Appendix B

Discontinuation of Waiver on Class Size Requirements for SY 2019-2020

Appendix I.1

2019-2020 Professional Development Days and Teacher Preparation Day

Appendix I.10

Agreement to work on SLP and Social Worker Caseload Overages

Appendix I.19

Agreement to phase in Athletic Trainers to a 1.0 FTE over 3 years. 

Appendix I.33 New Advisory MOU

New language establishes two Task Forces on Advisories, one for middle school and one for high school.

Appendix I.34 MOU addresses the new Teacher Leader Facilitator positions

Language describing the job duties and requirements assigned to the three levels (district, zone, site). Provides guidelines for differentials, number of positions, and elections of the Teacher Leader Facilitator position.

Appendix I.35

An agreement to update and increase many of the pay differentials.

Appendix I.37

An agreement to create a Task Force to research, evaluate the potential impact, and present recommendations Paid Parental Leave

 

Thank you to our ATF Negotiations Team:

Ellen Bernstein, ATF President

Sean Thomas, Executive VP, Eldorado Hs

Chelsea O’Connell, Treasurer, John Baker ES

Dwayne Norris, Membership & Involvement VP, Bandelier ES

Tanya Kuhnee, High School VP, Eldorado HS

Jason Krosinsky, Middle School VP, McKinley MS

Sonya Romero Smith, Lew Wallace ES and Loyola Cortinas, Valle Vista ES Elementary School VPs

Angela Reynolds, Support & Related, Services Providers VP, NE Diagnostic Center

 

 

 

 

 


Union Successfully Negotiates Major Salary Increase

After months of negotiations, the Albuquerque Teachers Federation (ATF) and Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) have reached a tentative agreement on new salary schedules for certified employees. Although negotiations continue dealing with other issues and contract language, we are proud to announce the victories our union has achieved for our all those we represent.

The money for raises allocated during the 2019 Legislative Session was substantial and we are grateful for the long overdue increases for all teachers on the 3-Tiered Licensure System. The Legislature increased the 3-tiered minimum salaries for teachers to $41,000, $50,000, and $60,000. This equates to between a 10.8% and 14.3% increase. (In dollar amounts, this is about $5,000 to $6000).

Unfortunately, this funding for educator raises was both unfair and unequal. Approximately 1,200 of the most experienced teachers in APS and all the “other licensed staff,” were allocated less than half of that amount—they were only provided a 6% pay increase. The “other licensed staff” include counselors, social workers, nurses, interpreters, special education therapists, and audiologists. These over 800 essential related service educators provide crucial services to our students.

For more than 12 years, ATF has worked tirelessly for all Essential and Related Service Educators and have successfully negotiated salaries for them equal to their teaching peers.

We are excited to announce that we have been successful once again. Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, all counselors, social workers, nurses, interpreters, special education therapists, and audiologists will earn the same 3-Tiered minimum salaries as teachers. This equates to an average of $2,700 more than the state appropriated.

ATF also successfully negotiated a 7% increase for all experienced educators, diagnosticians, school psychologists, and transition specialists—over $500 more than the state allocated for each of these highly valuable educators who have dedicated their careers to working with APS students.

Although salary agreements have been reached, ATF and APS negotiations about terms and conditions of employment will continue. All members of the ATF Bargaining Unit will have the opportunity to vote on the ratification of the above tentative salary agreements and contract language improvements when negotiations are completed.

*As of 7/3/19 the posted 2019-2020 Salary Matrices have been adjusted due to errors found. The adjustments have resulted in a few cells being increased or decreased from as little as $1.00 to as much as $100.00. These figures are very close to final, however until ratified in early August, will remain tentative and subject to change.

 

Click here to view the 2019-2020 Salary Matrices


COPE: Organizing for Power

Our power is realized at the bargaining table and at the ballot box. In 2018, ATF COPE volunteers helped elect a Governor who listens to educators and a Legislature that funds public schools. To gain raises and recognition, educators across the nation were forced to go on strike. Here, we exerted political power to achieve those goals.

Over the next 18 months, we will face several critical elections:

  • three APS School Board seats;
  • the entire NM House & Senate;
  • three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives;
  • a U.S. Senate seat for NM; and,
  • The President of the United States.

We need YOU to be involved in these decisive elections.

Click here if you’d like to become active in the ATF Committee on Political Education. 


ATF Hosts Successful Student Loan Debt Clinics

In late March, ATF packed the union building with yet another Student Loan Debt Clinic. As members of a profession that qualifies for student loan debt forgiveness, this ATF class has not been one to miss!

“We know that student loan debt is a huge concern for our members” said ATF President Ellen Bernstein. “Helping our members with their student loan debt is union work.”

A study conducted by our national union, the American Federation of Teachers, reported that AFT members are increasingly losing sleep over their student loans; they’ve made decisions between buying groceries and paying medical expenses or paying off their loan debt. Dozens have even reported thoughts of suicide.

Our union is doing our part to help alleviate some of the stress.

Participants in the ATF Student Loan Debt Clinic have left with a renewed sense of hope after receiving clear information from our trainers. Debunking loan myths and common misconceptions coupled with clear guidance from our trainers have set members on a path to loan forgiveness.

Our ATF Student Loan Debt Clinics are for ATF members only. If you are not a member of your union, click here to sign up.

Members, please keep an eye on your email for notice of future debt clinics.