Time to abandon NM’s Three-tiered-licensing system

There has been a lot of discussion recently about New Mexico’s “Three Tiered Licensing System.” This has been spurred by a report from the Legislative Finance Committee which stated that “New Mexico’s three-tiered career ladder system does not align pay with student achievement.”

Curiously, this seems to be a factor IN SUPPORT of the system, at least according to the unions. Quoting directly from the article:

The three-tiered system was never, ever about raising student test scores. In fact, as the Journal itself has aptly pointed out on numerous occasions, including in this article, student test scores correlate more closely with demographic factors such as family income, home language and parents’ level of educational attainment than they do with a teacher’s location on the three-tier professional scale.

So, what he is saying is that we have this three-tiered-licensing system that has nothing to do with improving test scores, but simply results in more highly paid teachers. No wonder the unions like it, but no one else does. While it is obvious that having excellent teachers is an important factor in improving educational outcomes, paying teachers more for simply having another set of credentials is a silly and ineffective way to spend money.

What should be done? Simply put, rather than wasting money on a broken and irrelevant licensing system, why don’t we judge teachers based on the educational outcomes of their students? Standardized tests shouldn’t be the ONLY or even the dominant measure here, but objective measures are important if we are serious about measuring teacher performance objectively.