The State Board of Education last week took another step toward approving the regulations that set out the Educator Effectiveness Evaluation System, the core of the new teacher tenure reforms.
At its Oct. 3 meeting, the State Board approved publishing the proposed regulations in the Nov. 5 edition of the New Jersey Register. A 60-day comment period is slated to expire Jan. 4, and the vote for final adoption is expected to be on the State Board's agenda in February 2013.
The proposed Educator Effectiveness Evaluation System regulations – the foundation of the TEACH-NJ tenure-reform law – detail how the law will be implemented. The regulations cover certificated staff ranging from teachers and principals to school nurses and athletic trainers.
New Evaluation Process The law requires schools to implement a minimum of a four-tiered evaluation system of teachers and principals. Student achievement and sound teaching practices are to be including in the evaluations.
Superintendents must file tenure charges against teaching staff members who receive two unsatisfactory evaluations, although the superintendent may defer the charges for one additional year under extraordinary circumstances. After the superintendent files charges, local school boards have 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.
The law is designed to address current shortcomings of teacher tenure laws that, due to the time and cost to school districts, often leave districts pursuing only the most offensive cases to remove teachers – rather than removing teachers for poor performance.
The law contains other provisions, such as granting new teachers tenure after four years, not three. Schools are expected to implement the new educator-evaluation system in 2013-2014.
Funding at Issue Thirty-six school districts and 19 individual schools are currently taking part in a pilot program of the new teacher evaluation system. While the state has invested $1.4 million to assist those districts in the pilot program for 2012-2013, NJSBA's testimony last month asked state officials what additional resources they will make available to the remaining 551 districts that need to establish their own pilot programs in coming months.
At last week's State Board meeting, board member Ronald K. Butcher cited the NJSBA testimony and asked about funding and resources to help school districts implement the program. Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf indicated that local school boards would be expected to reallocate existing resources to implement the educator-evaluation program.
During the public comment period on the proposed regulations, NJSBA will provide testimony on behalf of local school boards.