Bill Moves Forward Despite MAJOR Opposition from NJPSA and other Statewide Education Organizations
We Need You to ACT Right Now to help block this bill and allow further discussion!
By Debra Bradley, Esq.
NJPSA Director of Government Relations
On December 14, the Assembly Education Committee considered and moved to release from committee, A-5877. This legislation was formally introduced a mere three days earlier – this is the madness of the Lame Duck session in New Jersey! A major policy proposal that upends our current evaluation system, initiated by the NJEA, may be rushed through in the hectic holiday season unless legislators hear from all of you!
NJPSA strongly opposed this legislation in the Assembly Education Committee. NJPSA is not alone in valuing the importance of annual evaluation of the educators and leaders entrusted with our state’s children and is joined by NJASA, NJSBA, GSCS, and other organizations in opposing this bill. Meaningful evaluation makes a meaningful difference! You can read our testimony here.
Additionally, NJPSA sent you an Action Alert this week where you can quickly and easily voice your concerns with your local lawmakers. Every one of your phone calls and emails to your legislator and the legislative leadership makes a big difference as they decide what to do! Time is of the essence. We thank our members who took that step! If you have not done so already, please take a moment to act now!
What A-5877 Proposes to Change in the Evaluation Process
As the bill is currently written, there will be no changes to the evaluative process for non-tenured teachers. However, as introduced, the bill will modify how frequently tenured TEACHERS, PRINCIPALS, ASSISTANT PRINCIPALS AND VICE-PRINCIPALS are evaluated based upon their most recent summative evaluation rating.
- Newly tenured teachers will not be evaluated for two years after they earn tenure.
- For teachers rated highly effective, the next summative evaluation will occur three years later.
- For teachers rated effective, the next summative evaluation will take place two OR three years later at the supervisors discretion, after notice to the employee.
- For teachers rated partially effective or ineffective, a complicated schedule is established based upon each rating in a two year consecutive rating process.
- If the employee is rated ineffective or partially effective in an annual summative evaluation, and the following year is rated ineffective, the superintendent shall file tenure charges for inefficiency.
- If the employee is rated partially effective in two consecutive years or is rated ineffective in one year and partially effective in the following year of the two year period, the superintendent shall file tenure charges for inefficiency unless the superintendent the authority to certify in writing that there are “exceptional circumstances” that warrant more time for a teacher to improve before tenure charges are initiated. This employee continues to receive annual summative evaluations for two MORE years. If the employee fails to achieve at least an effective rating on each of these two consecutive evaluations, the superintendent shall file tenure charges. The bill provisions essentially give an ineffective employee who fails to improve for two years an additional two years to improve even after the initial two years where that teacher is on a corrective action plan (CAP)! This provision sacrifices the learning of the students in the classroom of this continually ineffective teacher and ties your hands from seeking to remove this teacher after a CAP.
- The bill creates yet another confusing scenario. If the employee receives one ineffective or partially effective rating in this two year period and one effective or highly effective rating, the teacher continues to receive annual evaluations until the employee acquires two consecutive ratings of effective or highly effective. At that point, the teacher returns to the two- or three-year evaluation cycle for effective and highly effective teachers set forth above.
- School districts must annually submit to the Commissioner a Statement of Assurance, which includes a list of all tenured teachers, principals, assistant principals and vice principals who did NOT receive a summative evaluation that school year and an affirmation that all tenured principals, assistant principals, vice principals, and teachers not on the list have achieved a rating of effective or highly effective in their most recent evaluation.
- Student Growth Objectives (SGOs) will only be required in those years that the teacher is subject to a summative evaluation. There is bill language that states, “Nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring the collection of teacher-generated student growth data” except in the year of that teacher’s summative evaluation. NJPSA fully supports the elimination of SGOs from the evaluation process and legislation is pending that would do just that – A-4906 (Simonsen). A-5877 is not content with that reform, even though the burdensome paperwork of SGOs is cited as the core rationale for this bill. Instead, A-5877 seeks to remove teachers from the annual evaluation process. This bill language states that supervisors will be unable to ask teachers to generate student growth data, even if it is for instructional purposes, not an SGO.
- An amendment to the bill made in committee states,” Nothing in this bill shall be construed as limiting a school district’s ability to conduct administrative and supervisory practices for purposes other than summative evaluations.” Evaluations include the summative at the end of the process. Such language directly interferes with your authority to conduct any part of the evaluation process, including observations, data analysis and any component of the process that are ultimately part of the summative evaluation itself.
What is next?
The next step in the legislative process is currently unknown. The Chair and bill sponsor, Assemblywoman Lampitt, stated that the bill may be second referenced to another committee for consideration. The bill could also be posted for a vote in this lame duck session which ends during the second week of January 2024. The Senate has not yet considered the bill, but NJPSA is concerned that the Senate Companion bill S-4234 may be considered before the Lame Duck Session ends. If the bill does not pass both houses and get signed by the Governor before then, the bill would have to start over in the new session. In light of the fact that this major education policy bill, with wide ranging impacts on teacher quality, has been introduced, considered, and passed in committee in only three days, this would be the most appropriate result!
Please Voice Your Concerns and Ask That This Bill Be Held
We need you to help us stop this from happening. NJPSA is open to reforms of the evaluation process, including the elimination of SGOs, but we need to have all voices at the table, not just one. We need to look at what works and what could be improved. We need the time for these important discussions, just as we took almost a year to discuss and make recommendations on the original TEACH NJ law. We need to advocate for the important role regular observation and evaluation plays in supporting the teachers and leaders who educate our students.
Please act today and complete the Action Alert steps you were sent this week. We know it is a busy time, but this bill strikes at the heart of what you value – quality teaching and instruction.
Your voice matters! Thank you for all you do on behalf of our students and teachers.