Author: Isaac Rivas-Savell

National Arts in Education Week 2017: September 10-16

National Arts in Education Week 2017: September 10-16

As educators, we recognize how critical it is to include the arts into our instruction to ensure students receive a complete education.  September 10-16, we celebrate National Arts in Education Week.  Please share stories detailing how you incorporate the arts into your daily instruction.  If you’re interested in writing a blog that provides a more in-depth description of your practice, please email me at, and we will include it using this platform.  Please include any and all photos documenting your lessons. Check the link below for more details.

New Mexico PED Announces More High-Performing Teachers Than Ever Before

New Mexico PED Announces More High-Performing Teachers Than Ever Before

ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Today, the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) announced that New Mexico has more high-performing teachers than ever before. The 2017 NMTEACH results show more students have access to exceptional teachers, and more students are growing across all subject areas.  Similar to the state’s results in PARCC, School Grades, Advanced Placement access and success, and graduation rates, the NMTEACH system is demonstrating that setting a high bar, closing honesty gaps, and embracing accountability sets New Mexico’s students, teachers, and schools up for success.


“I’m proud of our teachers statewide for rising to the challenge,” said Governor Martinez. “We know every student has the potential to succeed and they deserve the very best educators to ensure they are growing and prepared for college and a career. Our teachers deserve honest feedback that will help them improve in their craft. In New Mexico, we have elevated the profession, and will continue to do so by equipping, empowering, and championing our teachers.”


New Mexico is on the rise, academically, with 32,000 more students in A & B schools, 15,000 more students on grade-level in math and reading, the highest graduation rate in state history at 71 percent, and more students taking and passing Advanced Placement exams than ever before. The state’s commitment to educator quality is a major reason why these student results are rising. And districts like Farmington, Alamogordo, Gadsden, Belen and Hobbs are showing incredible growth and progress by embracing reform and partnering with the PED in successful programs like Principals Pursuing Excellence (PPE).  PPE is a program that puts teacher observation, coaching, and data analysis at the heart of school leaders’ work.


“Districts and schools must seize this opportunity to reward and retain their best teachers, create new mentoring and induction systems, individualize coaching and professional development, and revisit placement and staffing procedures to ensure all students, regardless of background or zip code, have access to excellent educators,” said Education Secretary-Designate Christopher Ruszkowski. “As a former middle school social studies teacher who wanted to grow in my craft and career, I know first-hand how important it is to have a meaningful teacher evaluation system that puts student growth front-and-center. For decades, we as educators bemoaned not having the tools or information to professionalize teaching. Those days are over in New Mexico—and we must come together to build upon this foundations in the days and months ahead.”


Based upon multiple measures of teacher performance, including observations, surveys, student achievement growth, and teacher attendance, the NMTEACH system has now been in-place statewide for four academic years.  The system was developed in consultation with stakeholders statewide and after a pilot year in select districts and charters.  Recently, Governor Martinez announced a shift in state policy based upon extensive stakeholder input and teacher-developed policy recommendations—it aligned with leading research on teacher effectiveness and took into consideration performance data on measures such as teacher attendance.  Recently released research on NMTEACH highlighted it as one of the strongest and most honest teacher evaluation systems in the country.


The PED collects and collates school and district data on each teacher’s performance, and released teacher summative reports to districts and charter schools on August 31, 2017. This year, the data was released earlier than ever before. Throughout the past week, teachers and principals have had the opportunity to discuss student and classroom performance— another place where the PED has been responsive to stakeholder input.

Every Student Deserves a High-Performing School

Every Student Deserves a High-Performing School

The Release of School Grades

School Grades were recently released to the public.

Our school accountability system has earned a lot of praise for being clear and understandable for families—and this year our reports are even more family friendly following our yearlong ESSA tour. Check out the great coverage all over the state in the ABQ Journal, the Associated Press, KOAT, KOB, KRQE, the Deming Headlight, the Carlsbad Current Argus, the Farmington Daily News, and the Alamogordo Daily News.  The story on Gil Sanchez Elementary might be my favorite yet as we seek to identify and scale best practices across the state.

Background on School Grading

School Grading is part of state and federal statute that mandates accountability for all public schools.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), originally enacted in 1965, requires schools to show annual improvement in mathematics and reading. In 2011, New Mexico lawmakers enacted additional requirements that schools demonstrate progress through a grading system similar to that applied to students, A-B-C-D-F.

School Grades provide a consistent measure (now over six years) for all public schools across the state so that we can see which schools are doing well and which schools are struggling and need support.

Working for Success

Schools that embrace change, get results. School improvement is a CHOICE. Our districts and schools that continue to embrace change and new opportunities for kids are continuing to see success.

Our 15 largest districts are serving more than 60% of students in the state. The following large districts are examples of those that have embraced change over the years and are now showing strong improvements – not only increasing the number of “A” schools within their districts – but also by drastically reducing the amount of “F” schools within their districts:

  • Farmington has eliminated “F” schools and increased the amount of “A” schools

o   In 2012, 6% of its schools were “F” schools, today the district has 0 “F” schools

o   In 2012, Farmington had no “A” schools, today 37% of its schools are “A” schools

  • Gadsden has eliminated “F” schools and increased the amount of “A” schools

o   In 2012, 9% of its schools were “F” schools, today the district has 0 “F” schools

o   The district has grown the number of “A” schools by 4%

  • Alamogordo has eliminated “F” schools.

o   In 2012, 13% of its schools were “F” schools, today the district has 0 “F” schools

o   The district has grown the number of “A” schools by 14%

Our Students Deserve Better

Our most struggling students deserve better. Many of NM’s schools are not doing a good job serving their lowest performing students that are well below grade level in math and reading.

Here’s what we can do, together, about the growing divide of schools on the rise and those that are not making progress or are sliding backwards:

  1. When schools are struggling, they can choose to improve.  Over the past five years, New Mexico has invested significant resources and developed proven programs and that are getting results for kids.  Principals Pursuing Excellence (PPE) and Teacher Pursuing Excellence (TPE) are two examples of those—school turnaround programs available for struggling schools that are ready to change and grow.
  2. Under NM’s top-rated State ESSA Plan, districts are required to take action when a school persistently earns “F’s” 4, 5 or 6 years in a row.  Several of New Mexico’s schools will be under the umbrella of the “More Rigorous Interventions” category—which requires district’s to choose a different path forward.
  3. When our kids are trapped in persistently failing schools, they have options under state law.  Students enrolled in schools that have earned two “F” grades in the last four years have the right to attend a different school.
  4. When charter schools are persistently “D” and “F”, the NM PED has a moral and educational responsibility to recommend to the Public Education Commission (PEC) that their charter be considered for revocation.

What You Can Do

The release of school grades can be an exciting time for some, but we also recognize it can be a sobering time for others.

If your school received a lower grade, put yourself in the shoes of a student who received a similar grade. What would you say to them? How would you encourage them? What immediate actions would you ask them to take? Give yourself (and any colleagues that need it) the same advice.

Once you’ve processed, here are easy and quick ways to start leaning in as a teacher, to lead toward improvement:

  1. Next time you see your principal, let them know you are ready and willing to help. Ask them what you can do to help improve!
  2. Dive into the full School Grade Report, not just the first page. Identify ONE thing to celebrate and ONE area for improvement.
  3. BE A GREAT TEACHER. Dive into your student level data, identify what your kiddos need and deliver. Your students can have a positive impact on the whole school’s grade.
  4. Last, but not least. Remember, we at the NM PED are here to help! We can provide a pick me up, encouragement or expert help! Just ask!

Hear It From Teachers

Check out what teachers around NM have to say about their school’s grade.

My school went from a D to a C….. we know we are moving up to a B next year!  We are positive! We are working harder than ever….. although our amazing principal did say in today’s meeting…. “It’s not about our grade, it’s about making sure we are preparing these students!”  So, in reality, our prayer and hope to move to a B, is just our journey and knowing we are doing everything we can to get these kiddos moving in the right direction!  Work hard…. 3 year old program- to our 6th grade programs. Just work hard!  Hurley Elementary School, Cobre Consolidated Schools

Deming Intermediate went from an F to being less than 2 points away from a C.  So proud of my school!!! Deming Intermediate School, Deming Public Schools

We went up, in both our elementary and middle school, from a D to a B!!!!!  Pretty dang proud of our students and staff! Eagle Nest Elementary and Middle School, Cimarron Public Schools

My school went from a D to a C. We as a school are prepared to work even harder to move up to a B or even an A. Colinas del Norte Elementary School, Rio Rancho Public Schools

Our little school went back up to an A as well. The staff is excited and so are the kids! Reserve High School, Reserve Public Schools

Our school moved up from a D to a C, missing a B by 5 points. We are determined to get that B or A next year. We are the largest school in SFPS with the highest ELL and Special Learning population in the district! We are so proud of our students and teachers! Capital High School, Santa Fe Public Schools

Launch of New Secretary’s Teacher Advisory

Launch of New Secretary’s Teacher Advisory

The NM Public Education Department is Equipping, Empowering & Championing Teachers by Launching the 2nd Cohort of the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory Committee

Last week, the Public Education Department announced the launch of the 2017-2018 cohort of the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory Committee. After a rigorous selection process from 242 applicants, 26 teachers representing 23 school districts and 1 state authorized charter school were chosen to serve on the committee.

The Secretary’s Teacher Advisory will have the opportunity to continue to build upon the foundation established by the first cohort by developing teacher leadership opportunities, providing guidance and perspective to the department, and ultimately helping better serve New Mexico’s students by establishing a solutions-oriented connection between the PED and educators. The first cohort of the advisory established the Annual New Mexico Teacher Summit, helped launch the New Mexico Teacher Leader Network, co-hosted community ESSA meetings during the New Mexico Rising Tour, and created new resources for New Mexico’s teachers.

“This was my greatest honor as an educator. For the first time in my career I felt valued, empowered, and reinvigorated. I was able to express my concerns and share my passion for education – I finally had a voice!” said Cohort 1 STA member Ashley Randall of Rio Rancho Public Schools. “It was wonderful to network and interact with the PED staff.  I acquired a great deal of information and always returned to my school/district to share my knowledge. My leadership skills and teaching practices have improved because of the STA.”

Teacher Advisory members meet with Acting Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski at in-person quarterly meetings and monthly conference calls to provide valuable insight into education issues across the state and gain access to new and up-to-date information.

“Under the leadership of Governor Susana Martinez, our department is always looking for new ways to equip, empower, and champion teachers and school leaders across the state,” said Secretary Ruszkowski. “Our educators have had and will continue to have a voice in the decision making process that ultimately determines what goes on in their classrooms. I look forward to working with the advisory committee and listening to their ideas to improve education.”

The new cohort’s first meeting took place on Saturday, August 12th. The department will work side-by-side with the STA members to compile agendas for each meeting.

“It was an honor to be on this committee.  I learned so much and loved being informed about what was going on in the PED,” said former STA member Perri Hathorn of Eunice Municipal Schools. “I loved being a part of such a wonderful group.  We really did make a difference!

The following educators were selected to serve on the 2017-2018 Secretary’s Teacher Advisory:

Felicitas Adame-Reyes Rio Rancho Public Schools
Leslie Baker Taos Municipal Schools
Dawn Bilbrey Texico Municipal Schools
Julia Burrola State Authorized Charter
Heather Campbell Hobbs Municipal Schools
Jayne Combs Portales Municipal Schools
Maria Haase Artesia Public Schools
Joel Hutchinson Las Cruces Public Schools
Jacob Kolander Albuquerque Public Schools
Elizabeth Long Gallup-McKinley County Schools
Michelle Lopez Jal Public Schools
Tennise Lucas Roswell Independent Schools
Jody Martinez Cimarron Municipal Schools
Patricia Martinez Albuquerque Public Schools
John McElhinney Raton Public Schools
Roxanne Mitchell Clovis Municipal Schools
Monica Montoya Penasco Independent School District
Samantha Nelson Farmington Municipal Schools
Monica Nunez Gadsden Independent Schools
Ashley Randall Rio Rancho Public Schools
Aoife Runyan Santa Fe Public Schools
Robin Stevens Eunice Public Schools
Rena Stone Mesa Vista Consolidated Schools
Andrea Thomas Central Consolidated Schools
Alysha Wagley Animas Public Schools
Kathy Zimmermann Deming Public Schools
CTE and STEM Conferences Available to You

CTE and STEM Conferences Available to You

National Conference Comes to Albuquerque!

The Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE) Best Practices and Innovations Conference will be in New Mexico this year. It will be held at the Hotel Albuquerque September 27-29, 2017. If CTE leaders are unable to attend the entire event, there will also be a half-day New Mexico CTE Summit Friday afternoon.

ACTE Best Practices & Innovations Conference

Learn about ACTE Professional Membership

Engineering, Computer Science, & Biomedical Sciences…Oh My!

The 2017 Project Lead The Way (PLTW) State Conference will be held September 15, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa for current or interested PLTW educators and leaders. Learn more and register for this STEM/CTE learning event.

Register for the NM Conference

Learn about National PLTW Curriculum

For questions, contact Bobbi Eichhorst at


Istation Professional Development for the 2017-2018 School Year

Istation Professional Development for the 2017-2018 School Year

To continue supporting districts and charters K-3 in the implementation and use of IStation data in supporting improving reading outcomes for students, PED will be hosting regional half-day trainings.  Training this year will be provided in two-strands, one supporting principals and district leaders, and one strand for educators focusing on how Istation assists in closing the achievement gap.

Teacher Professional Development –Round 1- August/Sept. 2017

Using Istation Tools for Effective Small Group and Differentiated Instruction

This session will incorporate a short refresher of ISIP assessments and then focus on progress monitoring and intervention. Participants will use data to form effective small groups and use Istation Teacher Tools to support differentiated instruction.  Please bring fully charged technology devices and your Istation username and password.

Each day will provide two sessions: 8:30-11:30am and 1:00-4:00pm.  To register, please click the link below for the training you wish to attend:

Date Location Registration Link
8.28, 29, 30, 2017 Albuquerque IStation for Teachers 8.28, 8.29, 8.30 Albuquerque
8.31.2017 Las Vegas IStation for Teachers 8.31.17 – Las Vegas
9.6.2017 Las Cruces IStation for Teachers 9.6.17 Las Cruces
9.7.2017 Artesia Istation for Teachers 9.7.17 Artesia
9.11.2017 Gallup IStation for Teachers 9.11.17 Gallup


Principals/Administrators Professional Development –Round 1- Sept. 2017

Using Istation Reports for Accountability and Instructional Decision Making

This session provides administrators an overview of Istation’s fundamental components as well as a basic working knowledge of key management reports, to get the most out of your ISIP implementation.  At the conclusion of this session, administrators will have had a chance to review reports for accountability and campus/district progress, as well as decision making.  Please bring fully charged technology devices and your Istation username and password.

Each day will provide two sessions: 8:30-11:30am and 1:00-4:00pm.  To register, please click the link below for the training you wish to attend:

Date Location Registration Link
9.6.2017 Albuquerque IStation for Administrators 9.6.17 – Albuquerque
9.7.2017 Las Vegas Istation for Administrator 9.7.17 Las Vegas
9.11.2017 Artesia Istation for Administrators 9.11.17 Artesia
9.12.2017 Gallup IStation for Administrators 9.12.17 Gallup
9.13.2017 Las Cruces IStation for Administrators 9.13.17 Las Cruces


Please share the information with your schools.  If you have questions, contact Michael Miller, Literacy Director, at or at 505-827-6567.

CTE: Save The Dates 2017-2018

CTE: Save The Dates 2017-2018

Career & Technical Educators:

Save the dates for the following student and teacher learning opportunities and stay informed this year through the CTSO websites!

2017-18 NM CTSO Conference Dates
October 23, 2017 CORE Leadership Conference Marriott Pyramid
February 1-3, 2018 Educators Rising State Conference Albuquerque
February 8-10, 2018 HOSA State Leadership Conference UNM Hospital
February 15-17, 2018 DECA Career Development Conference Hotel Albuquerque
February 22-24, 2018 BPA State Leadership Conference Marriott Pyramid
March 15-17, 2018 FCCLA State Leadership Conference Marriott Pyramid
March 23-24, 2018 TSA State Leadership Conference Los Lunas HS
March 28, 2018 FFA State Career Development Events NMSU
April 12-14, 2018 SkillsUSA State Leadership & Skills Conference Crowne Plaza


New Mexico MESA students from Deming High School are celebrating another huge accomplishment. At the 2017 MESA USA National Engineering Design Competition in Philadelphia, the Deming High School team again won first place honors.

The team captain, David Velez, Junior, Deming High, said “We entered the competition with one goal in mind, to defend our National Championship, and we did just that! Back to Back National Champions – it’s a dream come true.” His teammate, Adrian Luna had a sense of relief after the competition. He said “I didn’t realize the level of skill and talent we were going to compete against. I was totally nervous but we did it. Repeat national champions!” The other two teammates, Adriana Darrow and Antoni Varela and advisor, David Jaramillo could hardly contain their excitement.

The New Mexico middle school team was successful also. They came in 2nd place after California. It was so close in the scoring (8 point difference) between the 1st place and 2nd place. But these young men of Chaparral Middle School from Chaparral, NM took the whole experience in with wide lenses. The team of Kevin Ramos, Alfredo Sepulveda, and Luis Jimenez shared they will be back to take the 1st place trophy back to Chaparral. Their advisor, Rina Viramontes said “The competition gave my students the opportunity to work on a real world problem and accomplish something that they felt good about.  They worked with tools and computer applications that college students are working with. The students worked hard and I am extremely proud of them.”

The engineering challenge is to build a prosthetic arm within a certain budget and under a certain weight. The arm has to perform tasks such as relocating objects, throwing objects at a target, and screwing a nut onto a bolt through a wood board, totally under the command of a microprocessor using computer programming. The competition does not stop there. Each team is required to write a 5 – 15 page technical paper, create a poster display, and develop a 10 minute oral presentation.

The New Mexico teams competed against other MESA teams from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington and Illinois.

NM MESA’s mission is to “Empower and motivate New Mexico’s culturally diverse students with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) enrichment.”

NM MESA is a year-round, multi-year, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) initiative that works with school districts and higher education institutions to improve NM student STEM performance; increase NM college STEM enrollment; and provide hands-on STEM competitions.

For more on NM MESA, click HERE.

For more on what NM PED offers regarding STEM, click HERE.