State reduces paperwork and feds fund prep program to chip away at teacher shortage

By: - September 14, 2022 4:30 am

Barrack at an elementary school in Barelas, Albuquerque (Photo by Marisa Demarco / Source NM)

New Mexico teachers getting comfortable with their classrooms a few weeks into the school year could soon see support that would benefit their time with students.

Following the announcement that the state’s Public Education Department found a way to eliminate 34% of administrative paperwork, the U.S. Department of Education awarded $2.1 million to a Four Corners nonprofit that helps with teacher professional development.

Since so much of this is about saving time, I’ll be short. 

The state’s overall plan to create more time  devoted to teaching will be done via four strategies: reduce duplicate student data collection, streamline reporting, improve data systems and build a council to ensure these changes are being made.

“School districts and staff have been requesting a reduction in administrative burdens for a long time,” said Rio Rancho Public Schools Superintendent Sue Cleveland.

New Mexico plans to cut 580,849 hours by the beginning of the next school year. More than 330,000 hours could be cut as soon as Sept. 15 if PED meets its deadline, according to its Reporting Reduction Implementation Plan. Take a look at target areas where the state looks to cut down admin time. Teachers and school staff are likely very familiar with the tasks. 

“While 89% of our reporting requirements are mandated by federal law and state statute, there are actions within our control that can reduce administrative burden on schools,” PED Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said. “Our goal is to ensure that we make the collection of required data as easy and useful as possible.” 

The bulk of those hours expected to be reduced next week is specific to the time spent on data input for Student Assistance Teams that provide one-on-one support for students in struggling.

PED spokesperson Carly Bowling said teacher reporting requirements will be reduced, along with repetitious questions. The criteria to refer a student to the teams will be limited, too, which means fewer teachers will have to work on these plans. 

The plan also gives teachers greater say in moving quickly to get students classroom support without the need of implementing a plan for the assistance teams.

PED says this will improve classroom experiences because teachers will have more time to teach. 

And some teachers could soon benefit from professional development grants as part of the federal dollars coming to the state. 

Yesterday, Three Rivers Education Foundation was awarded $2.1 million by the U.S. Department of Education to recruit, train and diversify teaching staff. The nonprofit organization is based in Farmington and works with local school districts, as well as the Bureau of Indian Education schools in New Mexico.

A primary mission of this funding is to support recent college grads working in communities that need teachers and have high-risk student populations.

“These programs help prepare, place, develop and retain effective teachers and leaders in our schools and classrooms,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said. “Our students need quality educators now more than ever to address their academic and mental health needs.” 

And in New Mexico, those teachers will have a little less paperwork to fill out.

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Shaun Griswold
Shaun Griswold

Shaun Griswold is a journalist in Albuquerque. He is a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, and his ancestry also includes Jemez and Zuni on the maternal side of his family. He grew up in Albuquerque and Gallup. He brings a decade of print and broadcast news experience. Shaun reports on issues important to Native Americans in urban and tribal communities throughout the state, including education and child welfare.