The New Mexico Department of Public Education said it reduced paperwork requirements for teachers by 41% and administrative burdens for school districts and charters by 34%.

Both thresholds exceed what the department was asked to do in an executive order signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in May, which called for a 25% reduction in paperwork across all areas by the start of the school year in Classes.

The PED said Monday it was adopting changes that would convert 3,500 hours of work “into time spent assisting students and supporting school staff,” as well as cost savings of $136,000 per school district or school to charter.

To achieve these criteria, the department said it would reduce redundant data collection requirements, “streamline processes” and “enhance data systems” through strategies overseen by a new data governance council whose members will be nominated by New Mexico Secretary of Public Education Kurt Steinhaus.

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DEP spokeswoman Carly Bowling said board members will include representatives from various agency offices and three at-large members from districts and charter schools.

Steinhaus, a former superintendent of Los Alamos Public Schools, said, “We struck the right balance and tailored our reporting requirements.”

DEP spokeswoman Carly Bowling said the department will come up with IT projects, including two data management programs to process data submitted by schools and reduce the time needed for manual certification, as part of its next budget request in the 2023 legislative session. No estimate of the cost of implementation was immediately available.

Bowling said the revamp was planned in consultation with the Coalition of New Mexico Education Leaders and New Mexico Public Charter Schools.

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Kurt Steinhaus

The announcement was welcomed by the two unions representing New Mexico educators, the New Mexico chapters of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, whose leadership released statements saying the changes would increase the instruction time and make teachers feel more valued.

Rio Rancho Public Schools Superintendent Sue Cleveland echoed that sentiment in her statement, saying the changes “would help ensure administrators have more time to visit classrooms and teachers have more teaching time to work directly with students.

The announcement follows the release of grim data on assessment exam results last spring, indicating the majority of New Mexico students are failing to master language arts, early literacy, math or science. The state has historically struggled with student success even before the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruption over two academic years.

Algernon D’Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, [email protected] or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.

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