The Assembly Education Committee approved legislation, A-4122 (Caride/Jasey), September 19 that would eliminate the use of standardized assessments as measure of student growth or progress in the evaluations of teachers, principals, assistant principals, and vice-principals. The legislation, which moved along bi-partisan grounds, was approved along with several other measures at the am hearing. NJPSA supports the bill.
Eliminating Standardized Assessment in Evaluation
Specifically, A-4122 (Caride / Jasey) would forestall the use of standardized assessments as a measure of student growth or progress in the evaluation of a teacher, principal, assistant principal, or vice-principal. Under the “Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey (TEACHNJ) Act,” P.L.2012, c.26 (C.18A:6-117 et seq.), student progress on standardized assessments may be used as a factor in teacher evaluations, although it may not be the predominant factor in the overall evaluation of a teacher. This bill revises that relevant section of the TEACHNJ Act.
The legislation comes on the heels of an the New Jersey Department of Education announcement increasing the evaluation weight percentages as they relate to student growth on the standardized assessment for teachers and principals from 10 percent to 30 percent (NJDOE Announces Evaluation Weight Changes, September 1, 2016).
Both supporters and opponents of the bill were out in force at the Assembly hearing. NJEA, NJASA, the Garden State Coalition of Schools (GSCS) and NJPSA support the measure – all of which testified during hearing. NJPSA provided the Committee with some insight into the different parameters of the evaluation system, explaining how fifteen percent of educators are treated very differently by inclusion of the measure in evaluation because they are in tested grades and subjects.
NJPSA GR Director Debra Bradley also outlined how the Student Growth Objective (SGO) and Administrator Goal measures still allow for independent student growth metrics developed by the educator in concert with their supervisor. The Association also explained how the current situation creates equity issues within buildings and across districts for both teachers and principals.
Opponents of the bill, which include Democrats for Ed Reform (DEFR), JerseyCAN, and B4NJKids argued that the elimination of the metric from teacher and principal evaluation watered down the effectiveness of the TEACHNJ act and correspondingly teacher and principal evaluation.
A majority of the committee members voiced their concern with the current status of the system, arguing the increase to 30 percent by the Administration on August 31 (just prior to the school year) was simply too much too soon. Other legislators spoke about concerns with validity of the measure in light of transition to a new assessment system in PARCC.
The future path for the bill is unknown. NJPSA will keep you posted as the bill progresses forward.
- NJPSA Testimony
Student Bus Safety
Also heard were two measures related to student safety on buses. These included:
Assembly bill A-597 (Lagana / Gusciora / Webber) which would establish a crime of the fourth degree for operating a school bus with a suspended or revoked driving privilege and a crime of the third degree where the incident results in an accident causing bodily injury. The legislation also permanently prohibits passenger and school bus CDL endorsements for persons convicted of those crimes.
Also approved was legislation which codifies existing federal requirements as it relates to the transport of students in wheelchairs on a school bus. Specifically, A-1257 (Caride / Jimenez), requires school bus transporting students using wheelchairs to be equipped with four-point securement system and requires school bus operator to secure students using wheelchairs.
NJPSA supports both measures, as do NJSBA & NJASA.
Head Injury Prevention
In addition, the committee approved two bills related to head injury in students. The first, A-2481 (Lampitt / Diegnan / Benson) codifies existing regulation which requires public school students with concussions to be evaluated by licensed health care professionals before return to school. The legislation also permits a school district to restrict or limit a concussed student from participation in physical activity, including recess or physical education.
Under the bill, if a licensed health care professional provides notice that the student requires restrictions or limitations, the school district 504 team must identify and implement any appropriate restrictions or limitations and notify teachers and staff who have contact with the student of the restrictions or limitations.
NJPSA, in coordination with NJASA and NJSBA, worked with the Assembly sponsor last session to make the legislation consistent with existing regulation and practice in schools.
Also approved was legislation, A-3799 (Lampitt / Vainieri Huttle / Muoio) which expands to school intramural sports the requirements of the current student-athlete head injury safety program. NJPSA supports the measure. NJPSA supports the measure.
Finally, the committee approved legislation, A-2195 (Singleton / DeAngelo / Caride), which would establish a four-year “New Jersey Innovation Inspiration School Grant Pilot Program” at the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to fund non-traditional Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs. Under the pilot the Department would award six $150,000 grants to school districts to support non-traditional STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teaching methods for students in grades 4 through 12, support the participation of students in nonprofit STEM competitions, foster innovation and broaden interest in careers in STEM fields, and encourage collaboration among students, engineers, and professional mentors. In awarding the grants, the commissioner would give priority to applications from districts that intend to target activities in a rural or urban school, a low-performing school, or a school or school district that serves low-income students. The districts would be permitted to use the grant funds for a period of up to four years. However, a school district receiving a grant would be required to come up with matching funds and in—kind contribution from corporate donors in an amount equal to 25% of the grant amount respectively.
NJPSA supports this measure as to NJEA, NJBIA, NJASA and NJSBA.