In a Feb. 9 memo distributed by Christopher Cerf, acting education commissioner, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) announced it will expand its teacher evaluation pilot program next year to an additional 30 districts.
Currently there are 11 districts in the program, as well as 19 additional schools that are part of the School Improvement Grant program.
Funding will be made available in 2012-2013 for the 30 districts participating in the expanded pilot program. NJDOE expects to release a grant opportunity notice with full details of the application process next month.
The teacher evaluation pilot, called the Excellent Educators for New Jersey (EE4NJ) program, is seeking to develop an educator evaluation process that is linked with student achievement, with half of the measures initially consisting of direct measures of achievement, such as assessments and other evaluations of student work. The other half would involve teaching practice as it affects student performance.
The teacher evaluation system will be a focus of scrutiny as NJDOE’s goal is to have strong educator evaluations inform a wide array of education decisions, from teacher preparation and certification to tenure and compensation.
In early February, Sen. Teresa Ruiz, chair of the state Senate Education Committee, introduced a bill (S1455), called the Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey (TEACHNJ) Act. Among its provisions is one that creates an annual evaluation system for teachers and principals. Educators who repeatedly earn a low ranking on the evaluation could see their tenure revoked.
Cerf’s memo to superintendents and charter school lead persons notes that the state is working toward full implementation of a new evaluation system statewide in 2013-2014.
Districts not participating in the pilot program during the 2012-2013 school year will be required to take steps to prepare for the full implementation. Such steps include forming a District Advisory Committee by November 2012, adopting an observation framework and rubric that includes at least four levels of performance by January 2013, training teachers on the framework, and training those who will be observing teachers.