Governor Chris Christie today welcomed the recommendations of the New Jersey Educator Effectiveness Task Force as a blueprint to remaking public education in the state and refocusing the fundamental goals of the system to center on high student achievement and results for children. Established by Executive Order No. 42, the nine-member Task Force was charged with studying and developing recommendations to guide the creation of a fair and transparent system of educator evaluations, centering on student learning and achievement and demonstrated practices of effective teachers and administrators.
"The first step toward driving innovation and excellence in our public schools and expanding opportunity to every New Jersey child is making accountability and performance the foundation of educator evaluations. The most important factor in a child's education is the effectiveness of their teacher, yet our system is biased away from accountability and measurements of how well instructors are performing or how well children are learning," said Governor Christie. "If we are to succeed in delivering real educational opportunity to every child in New Jersey and finally closing our achievement gap, we cannot ignore performance or avoid accountability any longer.
"With a strong, student-centered foundation, we can achieve real reform to make educator effectiveness and student achievement the driving forces behind public education -- rewarding excellent teachers who are getting positive results in the classroom and removing teachers who don't. This report provides a roadmap to make these common sense reforms a reality, to challenge the status quo and to move the system toward the mutual goals of tangibly valuing our best teachers and excellent results for children."
The Task Force's report and recommendations are broken into four sections:
· Recommendations for a New Teacher Evaluation System;
· Recommendations for a New Principal Evaluation System;
· Other recommendations for the State to Set Positive Conditions For Successful Implementation Through Related Policies and Activities; and
· Next Steps to Begin the Process of Achieving Reform.
Recommendations Concerning Teacher Evaluations
The Task Force recommends the development of a new teacher evaluation system that is based entirely on student learning. All measures used to assess effectiveness should be linked to achievement. Initially, it would comprise equal parts teacher practice (inputs) and direct measures of student achievement (outputs). Over time, however, the Task Force encourages the state to increase the percentage of the evaluation contributed by measures of student achievement. Through these evaluations, teachers would be graded under four categories: Highly Effective, Effective, Partially Effective, and Ineffective.
· Measures of Student Achievement. Fifty percent of a teacher's overall evaluation should be based on direct measures of student achievement as demonstrated by assessments and other evaluations of student work. The Task Force recommends that the student achievement portion of the evaluation be comprised of two required components and one optional component.
The largest required component (70% - 90%) would be an individual teacher's contribution to his/her students' progress on a statewide assessment. The other required component would be a state-approved, school-wide student performance measure (10%). A third, optional component, would be another state-approved measure of performance (0% - 20).
Ø Measures of student growth. These are defined measures of student achievement and progress based on statewide assessments. Growth measures are preferable to raw attainment measures because they account for a student's academic starting point and give credit for progress made during the school year. The Task Force recommends that the state develop assessments capable of generating growth scores in as many additional subjects and grades as appropriate and financially feasible so growth scores can be calculated for more teachers beyond what is available with current assessments. This work should be done in partnership with districts, teachers, subject matter experts, and others.
Ø School-wide performance measure. The Task Force recommends that a total school student performance measure comprise 10% of the student achievement portion This measure could be a school-wide aggregation of all students' growth on state assessments. Alternatively, teachers could share credit for meeting a school-specific goal. A school-specific goal would reflect an area of need identified by the school or district and approved for use by both the Commissioner and district superintendent.
Ø Other measures of student performance. The Task Force recommends that districts be permitted to choose one or more additional measures of student achievement from a list of state-approved measures. Such measures might include student performance on nationally-normed assessments or State-mandated end-of-course tests. These measures could comprise up to 20% of the achievement portion of the evaluation.
· Measures of Teacher Practice. The measures of teacher practice should be based on clear performance standards that define effective teaching. The Task Force recommends that New Jersey use the new national core standards, reviewed and adapted as needed, as the basis for teacher evaluations.
Ø Once clear standards have been established, measurement tools are needed to collect and review evidence to determine if teachers are meeting the standards. The Task Force recommends the use of one high-quality state-approved observation protocol and at least one additional state-approved tool to assess teacher practice.
Ø The Task Force recommends that the observation tool comprise at least half of the weight within the teacher practice section, accounting for 50%-95% of this component. One or more additional measurement tools would comprise the remaining 5%-50%. Districts would select from a list of Department of Education approved observation and measurement tools.
Recommendations Concerning Principal Evaluations
School leaders play a crucial role in raising student achievement. According to research, principal and teacher quality account for nearly 60% of a school's total impact on student achievement, with principals alone accounting for 25%. The influence of school leaders is so significant because of their enormous contributions to school-wide success conditions. Key among these contributions are the influence and role in decisions directly related to promoting teacher effectiveness, such as hiring, professional development, evaluation, retention, and dismissal.
As with the teacher evaluations recommendations, the Task Force recommends that the new principal evaluation system have the same four categories of: Highly Effective, Effective, Partially Effective, and Ineffective.
Further, the Task Force recommends that the new principal evaluation be comprised of the following components with the following weights: Measures of effective practice: 40%; Differential retention of effective teachers (hiring and retaining effective teachers and exiting poor performers): 10%; and Measures of student achievement: 50%.
· Measures of Leadership Practice. The Task Force recommends that New Jersey adopt the updated Educational Leadership Policy Standards: ISLLC 2008, and that the Department of Education develop or adopt statewide performance indicators to establish clear and consistent expectations for all principals, across districts. The ISLLC standards have been adopted by most states, are widely accepted by the profession, and serve as a credible and useful foundation for principal evaluations. New Jersey currently uses ISLLC 2003 standards in accreditation, licensing and professional development, but not as a foundation for principal evaluations.
· Retention of Effective Teachers. The principal's success in building and maintaining a high-quality faculty, with effective teachers in the classroom, is critical to student achievement and school success. Differential retention of effective teachers means hiring and retaining effective teachers and exiting poor performers. The Task Force recommends that differential retention of effective teachers contribute 10% of the principal evaluation. The following indices should be used to measure differential retention:
Ø Principal's effectiveness in improving teacher effectiveness;
Ø Principal's effectiveness in recruiting and retaining effective teachers; and
Ø Principal's effectiveness in exiting ineffective teachers.
It is critical to note that principals can only be judged against this measure if they are given a clear role in teacher hiring, organizing professional development, dismissing ineffective teachers, and more. Reforms to further empower principals in this regard should be pursued.
· Measures of Student Achievement. The Task Force recommends that a principal's evaluation be based substantially on empirical measures of student learning. Two different measures of achievement are recommended to be included in the principal's evaluation: aggregated student growth on standardized assessments and "school-specific goals."
Ø Ultimately, principals are responsible for their faculty and staff, and therefore the cumulative results in their school. Principals should be evaluated on the aggregated growth of all students on statewide assessments for all subjects and grades. This measure should comprise 35% of the total evaluation.
Ø Every principal should also be measured on at least one school-specific goal, such as high school graduation rate increase. A school-specific goal would reflect an area of need identified by the school or district and should be approved by the Commissioner of Education. This measure or combination of measures would comprise 15% of the total evaluation.
Setting Conditions for Success
In order to maximize the positive influence of these new evaluation frameworks, the Task Force has provided recommended related policies and activities the State should simultaneously pursue. These "Conditions for Success," will lay the foundation and build the support structure for this new system. This list of issues to consider include the following: training for those conducting observations, informing educators of the new system's components and implications, ensuring high-quality data systems, continuously monitoring the system's effects after implementation, and more.
Next Steps to Begin the Process of Achieving Reform
The Task Force has identified a number of additional activities to be pursued over the next several months to move forward the implementation of education reform in New Jersey. This includes soliciting feedback from the State Board of Education and other education experts and stakeholders; further study of appropriate performance measures for teachers of special populations and non-tested subjects and grades; and developing recommendations for implementing the new evaluation system, including the possible use of pilot programs.
In addition to its chairman Brian Zychowsky, Superintendent of Schools in North Brunswick Township, other members of the Task Force included: Derrell Bradford, Executive Director and Director of Communications for Excellent Education for Everyone (E3); Jesse Rector, Clinton Hill Campus President of North Star Academy Charter School; Ross Danis, Associate Dean of Education at Drew University; Donna Chiera, an Executive of the American Federation of Teachers and Special Education Resource Teacher; Rafael Fajardo, former President of the Elizabeth Board of Education; Rev. Edwin Leahy, Headmaster of St. Benedict's Prep in Newark; Jane Cosco, retired teacher and Director of Operation Goody Bag; and PeggySue Juliano, Executive Board Member of the Lacy Township High School PTA.
The report is available in full at: http://www.state.nj.us/education/educators/effectiveness.pdf