Administrators Association Says Teacher Evaluation Timeline Is Too Ambitious

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TRENTON — A new teacher evaluation system will be implemented statewide next year before administrators and educators have sufficient time to evaluate the success of its pilot program and make necessary adjustments, according to the New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA).

The teacher evaluation system is a result of an executive order of the governor, which created a task force to develop a more authentic teacher assessment. The assessment will focus equally on classroom performance and student achievement. Currently, 11 districts are piloting the program that began in September 2011 and will conclude in March 2012.

“There needs to be time to review the results of the pilot program to determine whether it addresses all of the difficult questions,” said Dr. Richard Bozza, executive director of the NJASA. “For example, if one classroom has a number of special education students or limited English speaking students, should we rate the teachers the same on their students’ test scores? Authentic assessment is more complex than it appears.”

The NJASA advocates getting feedback from the pilot districts, as well. “Educators in the pilot districts are actively engaged and eager to participate,” noted Dr. Bozza. “But many of them are frustrated by the amount of work required in such a short time. We need to examine what is practical to implement statewide. We don’t want to launch a program before it’s ready. Let’s take the time to do it right.”

Eleven pilot districts are testing the new statewide teacher evaluation system during the 2011-12 school year with guidance and funding from the state. The districts include Alexandria Township, Hunterdon County; Bergenfield, Bergen County; Elizabeth, Union County; Monroe Township, Middlesex County; Ocean City, Cape May County; Pemberton Township, Burlington County; Red Bank, Monmouth County; Secaucus, Hudson County; West Deptford Township, Gloucester County; and Woodstown-Pilesgrove Regional, Salem County. The Newark school district also will participate through a separate grant.

On the federal level, similar frustrations are being felt by the Race to the Top grant winners, according to the NJASA. Educators and administrators also are struggling with practical questions about how to judge job performance fairly.

“This is a not a problem unique to New Jersey,” concluded Dr. Bozza. “We can definitely learn from each other.”

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