New Jersey Using Student Achievement to Help Evaluate Teachers

School officials in New Jersey have  decided to start using students’ scores on standardized tests and their year to year educational growth as part of a means to evaluate teachers’ performance in the classroom.

The New Jersey Education Association, along with many teachers, was far from pleased with the new system of evaluation, writes article author Peggy McGlone. They insist that the new measure takes time away from the classroom because of added adminstrative duties.

However, Education Commissioner Chris Cerf disagrees, says McGlone. He claims that the New Jersey Education Association is making false claims about the pushing of new tests, the state relying too much on test scores, and the rushing of the new evaluation system. He insists that they are trying “to engage in a deliberate campaign of misinformation.”

Others state that parents should have a part in teachers’ evaluations. It is the parents’ job to see that homework is done and to help their child with homework. If the student does not do their homework or brings it in unfinished, there is little a teacher can do. Parents’ involvement in teacher communications and parent-teacher conferences would also be taken into consideration.

Along those lines, it is statistically harder for a child from a broken or struggling home to excel in school, and some think that should be taken into account when evaluating teachers. Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan likes the parents’ role in the teachers’ evaluation in theory, but thinks it would be nigh impossible to work out.

“‘The concept of involving the parents is a worthy goal, but how in the world would you accomplish it?’ he asked. ‘Everybody is looking for a magic bullet when it comes to teacher evaluations, but it is complicated stuff.'”

According to Phil Dunn’s article, some problems are occurring in the new system. Administrators who used to only have to sit in on a teacher’s class once a school year now have to do it three times a year. This gives them less time to do their administrative and sometimes disciplinary jobs. Some teachers dislike the new system because they say it takes away from the creativity and richness of the classroom experience because they now have to drill students to do well on tests. Other teachers, like Kerri Harris, like the new system because it gives more of a complete picture of the teacher’s performance.

“’I like that it is about the whole teacher, not just the 40 minutes the administrator is in the classroom to observe,’ said Keri Harris, a second-grade teacher at Gibbsboro Elementary School. ‘Because we are more than that 40 minutes.'”

New Jersey has already given out 20,000 “trial run” ratings to teachers, states Leslie Brody’s news report. They will not count for that school year, but teachers were nervous to see their scores as they will count for 30% of their evaluation the following year.

Most teachers scored right where they were expected to be, said several district educational leaders. Principals and teacher supervisors are expected to meet with teachers about their scores and praise excellent teachers, discuss possible methods of improvement for middle scoring teachers, and do away with low scoring teachers.


03 15, 2014
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