|NJEA Associate Director of Government Relations Francine Pfeffer addresses the State Board of Education.
Last month, the State Board of Education (SBOE) got its first look at the initial set of proposed regulations related to New Jersey’s redesigned teacher evaluation system. This month, SBOE members heard testimony on the topic.
NJEA was among the organizations that addressed the proposal, which is the Department of Education’s (NJDOE) first attempt to codify some of the language found in the TEACH NJ Act, signed by Gov. Chris Christie in August.
Francine Pfeffer, NJEA associate director of government relations, spoke to board members on Wednesday, Sept. 5, and reminded them of the Association’s key role in crafting the tenure reform legislation. She also explained how NJEA has worked with the NJDOE in last year’s pilot of the new evaluation system while also monitoring its implementation in the pilot districts.
Pfeffer thanked board members for the opportunity to comment on the regulations and identified aspects of the proposed regulations that the Association applauds.
“We are glad to see that the regulations guarantee the confidentiality of employee evaluation records, and that they respect the collective bargaining process,” said Pfeffer. She also acknowledged support for the concepts of principal leadership and support for professional development within a principal’s evaluation, for these are critical to enhancing teacher practice.
|State Board members Dorothy Strickland, PhD. and Edithe Fulton hear testimony about NJ’s proposed teacher evaluation system.
Pfeffer spoke about NJEA’s concerns. They include a lack of specificity with regard to training requirements for teachers and supervisors as well as the fact that the regulations appear to treat teachers in public charter schools differently than those in traditional schools. She also suggested that teaching staff members on a district’s Evaluation Advisory Committee (DEAC) and each School Improvement Panel should be selected by the local association. In addition, NJEA believes the regulations in their current form do not reflect support for both individual and teacher-led collaborative professional development.
An important suggestion included in Pfeffer’s testimony involved an option to bargain an alternate approach to evaluation with the local association for tenured teachers who are rated “effective” or “highly effective” in two consecutive years. NJEA believes that teachers in this category should have the option to choose an alternative collaborative experience for the following two years, such as collegial coaching, action research, or engaging in the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification process. At the end of two years, teachers would return to the standard evaluation process for another two years.
“This would relieve principals of conducting some observations of successful teachers, yet help to continue strengthening teaching and learning,” Pfeffer explained.
Pfeffer ended her testimony by reminding the board members that “Research shows that placing undue emphasis on standardized assessment results is unfair to both teachers and students, particularly when the tests are not designed for that purpose and teachers do not receive useful timely data to be able to influence their work.”
NJEA also provided a list of definitions within the proposed regulation that the Association believes should be changed.