On August 31, 2018, New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet announced an important change in educator evaluation for the upcoming school year for both teachers and principals. Specifically, the Commissioner announced the new educator-evaluation component weights for the 2018-19 school year. Pursuant to the TEACH NJ statute, (P.L. 2012, c. 26, C.18A:6-117 et al.) and state implementing regulations, (ACHIEVE NJ, N.J.A.C. 6A:10), educator evaluation for teachers and principals must be based upon multiple indicators. These include observations of instructional and leadership practice pursuant to professional standards captured in a research-based practice model and measures of student growth including performance goals and the use of student assessment results including standardized test scores. State regulation provides that the Commissioner of Education has the authority to set the weights for each component of the evaluation system on an annual basis.
In announcing his decision to lower the weight of standardized test scores in educator evaluation, Commissioner Repollet noted the significant feedback the Department of Education received from thousands of students, educators, and other stakeholders during the NJDOE’s recent Listening Tour and the current state of transition to the development of a new state assessment system. In light of this transitional period and the inequity in evaluation approach among teachers, (only 20% of teachers have test scores directly utilized in the computation of their evaluation ratings (mSGP), Dr. Repollet provided official notice of the change in educator evaluation weights for the 2018-19 school year, stating:
“We value our educators, and believe that the changes to the evaluation weights will allow us to move toward a more equitable evaluation system.”
Comparison of Educator Evaluation Component Weights from 2017-18 to 2018-19:
NJPSA has advocated for and fully supports the announced changes in component weights for both teachers and principals. From the outset of the implementation of the 2012 evaluation reforms, school leaders supported the focus on professional standards, the use of professional practice frameworks to drive capacity and professional growth among educators, and the heightened use of data to spur professional conversations around teaching and learning. Evaluation changes have generated a renewed focus on accountability for student outcomes, improved instructional practice, and supported professional growth. In our view, these outcomes are the true bedrock benefit of evaluation reform in our schools.
School leaders also understood the negative impact that the disparate treatment of teachers in tested and non-tested grades would have not only on school climate and the perception of the fairness in evaluation, but also on other policy goals such as the placement of student teachers and even job placement decisions. Questions of validity and fairness have dominated the discussion despite the fact that the increased reliance on test data did not substantially affect final evaluation scores for the majority of educators in tested areas according to NJDOE reports. For these reasons, NJPSA supports the announced reduction in the use of standardized test (currently PARCC) scores in educator evaluation. It is our hope that this change will lead to a better balance of the multiple measures utilized in educator evaluation and drive the Department of Education to assist districts in building educator capacity and a strong evaluation system based upon professional reflection and growth.
As in the past, the use of test scores in the evaluation of supervisory staff is a local board of education decision. Although there is no statewide approach, districts are encouraged to utilize job descriptions, multiple data sources, growth measures and professional practice standards in their supervisory evaluation systems.
For more information, please contact the NJPSA Government Relations Department at (609) 860-1200.