Context of Evaluation System
The TEACHNJ Act (“TEACHNJ”) is the bipartisan tenure reform approved unanimously by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Christie on August 6, 2012. The goal of the law is to “raise student achievement by improving instruction through the adoption of evaluations that provide specific feedback to educators, inform about the provision of aligned professional development, and inform personnel decisions.” At its core, TEACHNJ reforms the processes of earning and maintaining tenure by improving evaluations and opportunities for professional growth. Specifically:
- Tenure decisions are now based on multiple measures of student achievement and teacher practice as measured by new evaluation procedures.
- Lengthy and costly tenure hearings are shorter, focused on process only, and less expensive.
- Educator feedback and development is more individualized and focused on students.
The TEACHNJ legislation applies to “teaching staff” who currently work in New Jersey public schools with the exception of charter schools, which are not addressed in the law. Teaching staff, as defined by the law, includes individuals in the positions of:
- Principal (other than administrative principal),
- Assistant principal (AP)/vice-principal (VP),
- Assistant superintendent,
- All school nurses, including school nurse supervisors, head school nurses, chief school nurses, school nurse coordinators, and any other nurse performing school nursing services,
- School athletic trainer, and
- Other employees are required to hold appropriate certificates issued by the board of examiners.
AchieveNJ provides the details and support structures necessary to allow districts to implement the law effectively. The AchieveNJ evaluation and support system is structured around several guiding principles; each one describes improvements from previous state policies.
- Educator effectiveness can and should be measured to ensure our students have the best teachers in the classroom. A three-year study by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently affirmed the impact of evaluations and showed that huge variations exist between the most and least effective teachers — in some cases, up to an 11-month difference in student learning.
- Evaluations should always be based on multiple measures that include both learning outcomes and effective practice. No teacher or principal should ever be assessed by test scores alone, much less a single test. Therefore, AchieveNJ includes a combination of student growth on objective measures and observations of a teacher's classroom practices and a principal's leadership practices conducted by appropriately trained observers.
- Timely feedback and high-quality professional development, tied to evaluations, are essential to help educators improve. Evaluations provide educators with more opportunities to engage in high-quality professional conversations and nuanced data that can be used to tailor professional development to staff needs. Evaluations that do not contribute to these types of growth and development offer limited value.
- Evaluation and support systems should be developed with significant input from educators. We have been working every step of the way with those most affected: teachers and principals.
- Tenure and other forms of recognition should be based on effectiveness. As codified in the new tenure law passed in 2012, educators should be recognized and rewarded based on the outcome of meaningful evaluations rather than simply time served.
Timeline And Context
Teacher’s Role in Evaluation Process
Administrator’s Role in Evaluation Process
District Administrator’s Role in Evaluation Process: