2023 Legislative Update
Over the past decade, the number of people completing traditional teacher training programs at New Mexico’s colleges of education has fallen by 75%. Graduates of New Mexico’s colleges of education report that the programs too often emphasize abstract theory over the practical, skills-based learning that is most valuable to future teachers. They also note that not all faculty have strong backgrounds as classroom teachers themselves.
House Bill 460, drafted by Think New Mexico and sponsored by Representatives Tara Jaramillo (D-Socorro) and Tanya Mirabal Moya (R-Los Lunas), among others, proposed to convert the final year of a four-year teacher training program into a teacher residency, a paid year-long experience in a classroom alongside an experienced teacher. Residencies have been shown to enhance teacher skills and reduce attrition, better preparing incoming teachers and keeping more of them in the profession.
The bill also requires future faculty hires by the colleges of education to have at least five years of experience as classroom teachers. In addition, it ensures that the state’s public colleges of education receive national accreditation and that their curricula are grounded in current best practices, including evidence-based math and literacy instruction.
Unfortunately, the House Education Committee declined to schedule the bill for a hearing during the 2023 legislative session, explaining that they wanted to study our proposals further over the coming year. With enrollment in the colleges of education having fallen by 75% in the past decade, we are urging the legislature’s education leaders to make these reforms a priority for 2024.
Coalition in Support of House Bill 460
AFT New Mexico
NEA New Mexico
Colleges of education nationwide have experienced a decline in enrollment, with the number of people completing these traditional teacher training programs falling by nearly a third in the past decade. The trend in New Mexico has been particularly precipitous, plummeting by 75% during the same time period. Meanwhile, the number of teachers entering the profession via alternative licensure has been gradually increasing.
One reason behind the declining enrollment in the traditional colleges of education is that the curricula in those programs too often emphasizes abstract theory over the practical, skills-based learning that is most valuable to future teachers.
To increase the value of the colleges of education to potential teachers, the legislature and governor must ensure that they are providing relevant, up to date curricula that reflect the best current practices, and also expand the clinical requirement from a single semester of student teaching to a full-year teacher residency.
Think New Mexico recommends that the legislature and governor enact a law requiring that, beginning in 2023 and then every five years thereafter, the Public Education Department evaluate the schools of education to determine whether their curricula reflect the best research on effective teacher preparation, and make continued accreditation of the colleges of education contingent on meeting that standard.
Read our guest editorial about the need to maximize dollars to the classroom • March 9, 2023