Updated Nov. 16
TRENTON, October 19, 2012—School boards and administrators will need to perform numerous duties in the coming school year before the new educator-evaluation system is implemented in 2013-2014, according to rules that are being drafted by the State Board of Education.
The State Board of Education, the body within the New Jersey Department of Education that writes regulations that local school boards must follow, is drafting proposed regulations on the "Educator Effectiveness Evaluation System."
On Nov. 13, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) issued details on the requirements and deadlines in the educator-evaluation process. The NJDOE's memo specifically notes that districts impacted by Hurricane Sandy may request extensions by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (609) 777-3788.
The new educator-evaluation system is the foundation of the TEACH-NJ tenure-reform law that was enacted in August. The law requires schools to implement a four-tiered system to evaluate teachers and principals. Superintendents must file tenure charges to remove teaching staff members after two unsatisfactory evaluations (unless the superintendent defers the filing of charges a year due to extraordinary circumstances). After the superintendent files charges, the local school board has 30 days to certify the charges to the state Education Commissioner, or charges will be dismissed. The commissioner reviews whether charges have merit, and refers cases to arbitrators, who have 90 days to hear and decide tenure cases. New teachers can obtain tenure after four years, not three.
The goal of the new law is to decrease the time and expense of filing tenure charges to remove teachers, especially for poor performance. Under the previous system, it could take over a year and cost a district into six digits to remove a tenured teacher. Because of that, school boards would pursue only the worst offenses – typically filing tenure charges for unbecoming conduct, as opposed to poor performance. Each year, the education commissioner would decide about one or two dozen tenure cases, which was a small percentage of approximately 136,000 teachers and other certificated staff in New Jersey's public schools, most of whom have obtained tenure.
The proposed regulations – which cover teaching staff members, including certificated staff ranging from teachers and principals to school nurses and athletic trainers – detail how the TEACH-NJ law will be carried out.
NJSBA Concerns The New Jersey School Boards Association strongly supports the establishment of a fair and consistent process based on student achievement and sound teaching practices. To achieve this goal, local school boards will need the necessary resources as recognized by the TEACH-NJ Act.
NJSBA is calling on the state to provide adequate resources and funding to help school districts implement the new evaluations. NJSBA notes that the state allocated $1.4 million for 36 school districts and 19 individual schools that are taking part in the teacher-evaluation pilot program in 2012-2013. The Association wants to know what additional resources will be available to the remaining 551 school districts that need to establish their own pilot programs within the next five months.
In fact, the TEACH-NJ Act specifically states, "The Department of Education shall provide the funds necessary to effectuate the provisions of this act."
Board Action Required According to the proposed regulations, school boards will be required to perform some key duties in the 2012-2013 school year:
|Oct. 31, 2012||School boards must create a District Evaluation Advisory Committee, which will oversee the implementation of the district's evaluation policies and procedures. The advisory committee will consist of teachers from each school level in the district, central office administrators overseeing the teacher evaluation process, and administrators conducting evaluations. The committee must include the superintendent; a special education administrator; a parent; and a member of the district board of education. At the discretion of the superintendent, membership on the committee may include representatives of other groups.|
|Jan. 31, 2013||School boards must begin testing the education evaluation rubrics they have adopted for teachers, various levels of principals, and other categories of teaching staff members. Evaluation rubrics must, at a minimum, include a four tiered rating of ineffective, partially effective, effective, and highly effective; and the evaluations must include multiple measures of student learning assessing growth over time. The educator evaluation instruments selected and implemented by the school board must be approved by the state.|
|Feb. 1, 2013||School boards must establish School Improvement Panels in each school to ensure the effectiveness of the school's teachers. The panels – comprised of the principal or designee, an assistant/vice principal and a teacher – will oversee teacher mentoring, conduct teacher evaluations, and identify professional development opportunities. The teacher on the panel will not take part in evaluations except with the approval of the majority representative.|
|July 1, 2013||School boards must complete training for all teaching staff so the staff has a good understanding of the new evaluation system before its implementation in the 2013-14 school year. Other stakeholders may be trained at the superintendent's discretion.|
|Aug. 31, 2013||Training for the personnel who will be observing teaching practices should be completed.|
|Oct. 31, 2013||School boards must provide rigorous and comprehensive training on the evaluations of principals.|
According to the proposed regulations, individual job evaluations would be protected from public inspection.
In addition, the regulations would not override provisions of collective bargaining agreements in effect at the time of the code's enactment. The proposed regulations would become effective when the collective bargaining agreements expire.
The New Jersey School Boards Association is a federation of 586 local boards of education and includes more than 75 charter school associate members. NJSBA provides training, advocacy and support to advance public education and promote the achievement of all students through effective governance.