Retaining Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require that tenure decisions are based on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Link to Evidence of Effectiveness: New teachers must complete a one-year mentorship program. Then they must score effective or highly effective ratings on their overall evaluations for two of the next three years of employment.
Basis for Tenure: New Jersey's teacher evaluation ratings include objective measures of student growth; therefore, classroom effectiveness is considered when making tenure decisions.
New Jersey Statutes 18A:28-5
Ensure that evidence of effectiveness is the determinative factor in tenure decisions.
Although New Jersey's teacher evaluation ratings include evidence of student growth, the state does not make it a determinative factor in its teacher evaluations. The state should strengthen its policy and make evidence of effectiveness the most significant factor when determining this leap in professional standing.
New Jersey recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also provided that because it bases tenure decisions on evaluation data, which the state considers to be "evidence of effectiveness," it is not clear why it does not meet this goal.
Although New Jersey requires its evaluation systems to include evidence of student growth, the state's policy falls short in that it does not require teachers to meet student growth goals in order to be rated overall effective.
Tenure should be a significant and consequential milestone in a teacher's career. The decision to give teachers tenure (or permanent status) is usually made automatically, with little thought, deliberation or consideration of actual performance. State policy should reflect the fact that initial certification is temporary and probationary, and that tenure is intended to be a significant reward for teachers who have consistently shown effectiveness and commitment. Tenure and advanced certification are not rights implied by the conferring of an initial teaching certificate. No other profession, including higher education, offers practitioners tenure after only a few years of working in the field.
States should also ensure that evidence of effectiveness is the preponderant (but not the only) criterion for making tenure decisions. Most states confer tenure at a point that is too early for the collection of sufficient and adequate data that reflect teacher performance. Ideally, states would accumulate such data for four to five years. This robust data set would prevent effective teachers from being unfairly denied tenure based on too little data and ineffective teachers from being granted tenure.