NJPSA Executive Director Pat Wright issued the following statement in response to the New Jersey Department of Education August 31 announcement of changes to evaluation weights for the 2016-17 school year:
“Yesterday, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) announced changes to evaluation weights for the 2016-17 school year, increasing the weight of the median Student Growth Percentile (mSGP) from 10 percent to 30 percent for teachers and principals.
We are very surprised by the timing of this announcement which directly impacts both NJPSA members and the teachers they work with every day. While the NJDOE met the deadline of August 31 to announce weights for the upcoming year, it is helpful to our members and to their school community to have this information well in advance of the opening of schools. It is a matter of respect and courtesy, and perhaps most importantly, it allows us the time to effectively communicate changes to our teachers and fellow school leaders.
The weight for mSGPs had been reduced to 10 percent for the past two (2014-15 and 2015-16) school years as we transitioned state assessments to the new PARCC. As an Association, we called for the gradual implementation and phase-in of the new assessment system and its impact on students, teachers and school leaders.
As school leaders, our ability to inform curriculum, instruction, assessment and supports for students is directly shaped by our ability to analyze what the new PARCC data tells us. We have just begun that process and need time to work with staff to make appropriate changes and improvements to practice. This is what will positively impact student learning. We are concerned with the recent rush to increase the weight of SGPs before we have had the opportunity to use the data to effectively make the necessary changes in curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
We ALL share the common goal of increasing student achievement. We recognize the role that assessment plays in providing critical data to our educators, parents and students. This data is essential in addressing the individual learning needs of our students. Changes in the emphasis we put on student achievement data within the State evaluation system in no way alters our resolve to give our maximum effort to provide every student in New Jersey with the very best education possible. Our students deserve no less.
It is our hope that going forward, the NJDOE, the Administration, Legislature, and other decision makers who affect the education community will communicate effectively and promptly with us and our fellow educational organizations. This will help ensure our members prepare their teachers and other school staff for change, improve practice and continue to give our students the best opportunity to succeed. We look forward to future discussions with the Department as they continue to monitor and make changes to assessment and evaluation for our members and the teachers they lead.”