Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Q&A: Roch says Common Core helps students


December 30, 2014

Rep. Dennis Roch

link Rep. Dennis Roch

State Rep. Dennis Roch (R-Logan) also serves as superintendent of Logan Municipal Schools. With these two roles, Roch is uniquely qualified to speak out on educational policy in New Mexico. We asked Rep. Roch five questions about state educational policy. Here are the questions and his responses:

Q. The state of New Mexico has adopted the Common Core to guide its standards for public schools. What do you like about the Common Core? What do you dislike?

Roch: I like that the common core standards are designed with the end in mind. That is, they aim to prepare students with the knowledge and skills to be successful in college and/or careers. They also help to control for mobility, ensuring that students enjoy consistent educational standards regardless of the school, district, or state to which they may relocate.

I share the concerns of some of our primary teachers that the standards push our youngest students too far, too fast in some topics (algebraic thinking, for example) while falling short in other topics (calculating time and money, for example). I am also leery of efforts to expand common core beyond language arts and mathematics (where there is much agreement regarding content) to such areas as science and history (where controversial topics might prove divisive).

Q. How can the state’s teacher evaluation system be made fairer, easier to understand and still hold teachers accountable for student performance?

Roch: I understand that teachers (and even administrators) across NM have concerns about the implementation of the new system, but we must also be careful not to fall victim to some misconceptions out there that aren't entirely true.

For example, teacher evaluation HAD been based solely on one factor-- namely, the principal's observation. While not perfect, the new system represents a balanced approach which comprises observations (25%), other local measures (25%), and student learning growth (50%, captured via SBA, short-cycle assessments, and more

The benefit of such a system is that it is equally weighted between objective and subjective measures, and it eliminates the possibility that a "personality conflict" between a teacher and principal can ruin an entire career

The system also allows spectacular teachers to rate higher than merely "meets standards." This is a big plus for teachers who are achieving great things with our students!

Of course, while I do consider this system an improvement over the previous one, I also recognize that there may be ways to improve it further... including a possible revision to the weight given to the various components.

Q. With New Mexico placing very low among the states in job creation, what role should schools play in better equipping graduates for the workforce?

Roch: Particularly with recent increases in high school students enrolling in college courses via dual credit, New Mexico's public schools continue to prepare students to become the next generation of doctors, lawyers, engineers, and more.

Therefore, I do not attribute poor job creation to the lack of a qualified workforce; instead, I fault our state's business climate (namely burdensome regulations and our punitive gross receipts tax scheme).

Look for my colleagues and I in the state legislature to reduce the burdens on job creators.

Q. The state is facing a loss of revenue because of falling oil and gas prices. What should be done to assure schools receive adequate funding?

Roch: First, the state is still on track to spend more on state government (including schools) in 2015 than it did in 2014. It's important to remember that the "losses" folks are talking about are simply "smaller increases," not true "losses."

Consider also that, even during the most recent budget downturn in 2009, funding for public education was protected to a much greater degree than other state agencies. I therefore don't expect any reduction over prior-year school funding, but rather I expect that public schools will receive nearly half of the revenue increases over last year's budget.

Q. Knowing you have other priorities, what are the top three education-related bills you are anticipating in the 2015 legislature?

I fully expect that the legislature will once again consider a bill designed to ensure that students are reading sufficiently by the end of the third grade before they are promoted into the upper grades (where their success depends on their ability to read well). Remember that this legislation passed the House of Representatives in 2009 on a bipartisan vote of 62-5!

In addition, I will be reintroducing my bill to do away with the "dossier" system and instead base teachers' licensure advancement on their annual evaluation results. This change would eliminate a process that many teachers view as arbitrary and would tie advancement-- and with it, a permanent salary increase-- to classroom and school-level educational outcomes.

Finally, we will see a bill which will link school attendance to a student's driving privileges, a move I am hopeful will reduce chronic absenteeism and outright truancy, especially among high school students.


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2018