The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
New Jersey does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
The state requires local school districts to formulate comprehensive evaluation policies that must include classroom observations as well as "a summary of indicators of student progress and growth, and a statement of how these indicators relate to the effectiveness of the overall program and the performance of the individual teaching staff member." Although New Jersey mentions the requirement of student achievement indicators, it does not clearly articulate that objective measures of student achievement will be used as part of teacher evaluations.
The governor of New Jersey has recently proposed legislative reform that would require multiple measures of student learning to comprise at least 50 percent of teacher evaluations. Under this new system, teachers would be rated using the following multiple rating categories: highly effective, effective, partially effective and ineffective.
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although New Jersey requires some evidence of student achievement, it is not clear whether the state requires objective evidence of student achievement for all teacher evaluations. In light of the governor's proposal, New Jersey clearly acknowledges there is room for improvement.
New Jersey should either require a common evaluation instrument in which evidence of student learning is the most significant criterion, or it should specifically require that student learning be the preponderant criterion in local evaluation processes. Whether state or locally developed, a teacher should not be able to receive a satisfactory rating if found ineffective in the classroom.
Ensure that classroom observations specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although New Jersey commendably requires classroom observations as part of teacher evaluations, the state should articulate guidelines that focus classroom observations on the quality of instruction, as measured by student time on task, student grasp or mastery of the lesson objective and efficient use of class time.
Utilize rating categories that meaningfully differentiate among various levels of teacher performance.
To ensure that the evaluation instrument accurately differentiates among levels of teacher performance, New Jersey should require districts to utilize multiple rating categories, such as the ones outlined in the governor's proposal. A binary system that merely categorizes teachers as satisfactory or unsatisfactory is inadequate.
New Jersey recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.