Christie Visits Bergenfield School To Promote Teacher Evaluation Pilot Program

Gov. Chris Christie visits with teacher Joe Mastroeni's physics class at Roy W. Brown Middle School in Bergenfield on Sept. 14, 2011. (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

BERGENFIELD – On Wednesday, Gov. Chris Christie and Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf visited Roy W. Brown Middle School in Bergenfield, one of the ten districts chosen to participate in a teacher evaluation pilot program over the course of the 2011-12 school year.

“New Jersey ranks among the top states in the nation in student achievement according to a number of measures, and we owe all of our teachers a tremendous debt of gratitude for their hard work and dedication. The reforms we are pursuing make the talent and effectiveness of our educators a top priority,” said Christie. “It is past time that our education system allows us to identify and reward good teachers with better pay and career opportunities, help those who are struggling, and provide a pathway to remove those who aren’t meeting the standards our children need and deserve. Districts taking part in a teacher evaluation pilot like Bergenfield are providing the leadership needed to ensure that we have teacher evaluation systems that treat teachers with the respect and recognition they deserve for the great work they do every day for our children.”

The Excellent Educators for New Jersey teacher evaluation pilot program will evaluate teachers based on multiple measures of teacher practice and learning outcomes for students, with 50 percent associated with each, and never based on a single consideration much less a single test. Evaluations will be based on student progress versus absolute performance, will have a direct link between the results of the evaluation and professional development opportunities, and will have clear and consistent criteria both for teachers and evaluators.

Christie also proposes changing the state’s tenure rules so that teachers will keep or receive tenure based on what matters the most – whether students are actually learning. Using a revamped teacher evaluation system, teachers should earn tenure if they are rated effective or highly-effective for three years in a row. If a teacher is found to be ineffective or partly effective for two consecutive years, they should lose the privilege of tenure.

The Governor also proposes merit pay for teacher performance and additional incentives for teachers in hard-to-staff positions and the highest need schools. Currently, the only way for teachers to earn higher salaries is based on an additional year of service or credit accumulation – neither of which accurately measure teacher performance in a classroom.

“Research shows that the quality of a teacher in front of the classroom is the most important in-school factor affecting student learning. That’s why we must ensure that we have a teacher evaluation system that fairly and meaningfully measures teacher performance and is centered first and foremost on helping all teachers, regardless of their level, constantly improve their practice,” said Cerf. “Current evaluations fall far short of this goal. Reviews, if conducted at all, are often perfunctory, based on unclear standards and frequently bear little relationship to the central objective of good teaching – advancing student learning.”

Districts participating in the teacher evaluation pilot program, including Bergenfield, were selected from among 31 applicants, and pending final review procedures, will split $1.1 million in grant funds made available by the state. An eleventh district, Newark, will also participate in the pilot through a separate grant. Pilot districts will help to shape the new system, providing critical input and feedback that will frame the statewide roll-out in 2012.

For more information on the pilot program, visit

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