Get ready now for new evaluation system

Yes, it’s true. All New Jersey school districts will be implementing a new formula to evaluate teachers in 2013-14.

In addition, school districts should be either in the process of establishing a committee to recommend a new framework for evaluating “teacher practice” – the portion of evaluation including observations -- or reaffirming their current research-based framework. For most districts, the committee needs to be established by November and the framework selected by January 2013.

NJEA recommends that members and local associations consider the following tips to ensure that they are ready and that the district evaluation program adopted is comprehensive, collaborative, and fair.

Tips for members

  • Stay informed. Pay attention to what is happening in your district and statewide regarding evaluation.
  • Take an active part in your association. Volunteer to be on the association’s Staff Evaluation Committee or assist the local in other ways. Make your voice heard to help build a fair, reliable, and valid evaluation system.
  • If asked to serve on the district evaluation advisory committee, remember that you are  representing all staff in the district.
  • Participate fully in the training on evaluation. Evaluation should not be a one-way street, with administrators doing all the talking. Read and learn everything about the evaluation framework that your district plans to implement. Evaluation should spark a conversation about ways to enhance teaching and learning, provide support, and encourage collaboration among staff.
  • Follow your local association’s advice. Be prepared to share your evaluation with the local association evaluation committee or your association representative.
  • Review your locally negotiated contract and know the provisions related to evaluation.
  • Don’t “evaluate” colleagues or offer feedback to supervisors/administrators about other staff. Unless you are a certified supervisor hired by the district specifically as a supervisor, you should not be conducting or contributing to an evaluation. Remember, mentoring and coaching are collaborative, collegial relationships.
  • If questions arise or something in your evaluation doesn’t  feel  or  sound  right, contact your association. Make sure that changes in procedures, forms, observations, or other aspects of evaluation are legitimate and not being implemented by an administrator who wants to do something different or just move ahead.
  • Learn to be proactive in preparing for and documenting data related to your evaluation and your work with students. Keep accurate records of your observations, class demographics, professional development, and student progress. Use the “NJEA Resource Guide on Evaluation for Teachers” available on the NJEA website to keep records that play a key role in evaluation. Under “Issues” on the NJEA home page, click on “Evaluation” to find the downloadable document.
  • Don’t assume that this will go away. A new evaluation system will be adopted in New Jersey. Our job is to make it the best system possible.

Tips for local associations

  • Reach out to your superintendent or lobby the board of education to involve the association in the selection of the teacher evaluation framework and to include association representatives on the district evaluation advisory committee. This will ensure that the process is collaborative and involves all stakeholders.
  • Establish a local association Staff  Evaluation Committee. Collect information regarding evaluation implementation to ensure that the framework is being applied equitable and uniformly. Track whether high quality training is being provided to both administrators and teachers. Identify challenges – as well as positive approaches – in the process.
  • Insist that a comprehensive training schedule including at least three full days of training for administrators and a minimum of two full days of face-to-face training for teachers in the new framework, be provided by certified framework trainers.
  • Request that association representatives be present at both administrator and teacher trainings on the evaluation framework and related issues.
  • Assign a member-leader, such as someone on the association’s Staff Evaluation Committee, to monitor and share evaluation-related information from NJEA’s publications, website, and advisories.
  • Ask your grievance chairperson/committee to be vigilant. Make sure that members’ rights are not violated under your collectively negotiated agreement or state regulations when a new evaluation process is developed and implemented.
  • Don’t let districts or administrators divide members or take a “gotcha” approach to evaluation. Reach out to your local administrators and their local association to establish a positive approach and an environment of trust.
  • Collaborate with the district to create a confidential, collaborative support structure for both new and experienced teaching staff members who seek or need help with challenges in their work.
  • Work closely with your NJEA UniServ field representative. Keep your field rep informed about local developments. Discuss bargaining related to evaluation before taking any action. Share any evaluation-related challenges, concerns, or successes.
  • Be sure that teachers are not evaluated using the selected framework until all evaluators and staff have been trained and have had opportunities for practice, discussion, and review of the framework have occurred.
  • Remember-- only certified supervisors or administrators who work in the district full time and who have a thorough understanding of the school’s culture and unique challenges should evaluate teachers. Evaluators should thoroughly grasp the subject matter and grade levels that they are evaluating.
  • Help your members get the resources they need to do their jobs effectively. This includes curricula that are aligned to current standards, data they need relative to specific student skills on district and state tests, and comprehensive supplemental education opportunities for students who are struggling.