Symposium looks at evaluation instruments, testing

Published on Tuesday, September 25, 2012

 Evaluation Symposium
NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Marie Blistan, joined by NJPSA Director of Professional Services Jay Doolan, welcomes symposium attendees.

It may be September, but many educators have the same question on their minds that they had last June: how will New Jersey’s teacher evaluation system be changed?

To help answer that question, NJEA again partnered with the N.J. Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) in sponsoring an event that looked at the four most popular teacher practice instruments. Approximately 250 teachers and administrators attended the Symposium on Teacher Evaluation Models at Mercer County Community College last week. The two organizations held a first conference on this topic in May.

NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Marie Blistan and NJPSA Director of Professional Services Jay Doolan welcomed the attendees. Blistan urged educators to download the NJEA Resource Guide on Evaluation for Teachers to assist with the transition to a new evaluation system. Doolan emphasized the commitment to collaboration and enhancing student learning that both organizations share.

Representatives from Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, Dr. Robert Marzano’s Causal Teacher Evaluation Model, the Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning’s McREL Teacher Evaluation System and James Stronge’s Teacher Evaluation System described the features, costs, and training opportunities associated with their particular evaluation system. Each presentation was delivered twice so that educators from districts that have not yet selected a model could compare two different frameworks.

 Evaluation Symposium
Dr. Rosemary Knab, associate director of research at NJEA, presents “NJ Teacher Evaluation Reform—A Better Mousetrap?” at the symposium.
The symposium also featured an afternoon presentation titled “NJ Teacher Evaluation Reform—A Better Mousetrap?” Dr. Rosemary Knab, associate director of research at NJEA, explained what has happened in the areas of evaluation and tenure thus far in New Jersey and identified those areas where unanswered questions remain. Most of those questions center around the use of student standardized test scores in teacher evaluation. Knab described the student growth model that the N.J. Department of Education (NJDOE) plans to use, but noted that the NJDOE has acknowledged that it will take time to implement a system that relies on the use of the state’s standardized tests.

Knab identified what researchers see as the major obstacles to using student standardized test scores in this manner as well as the practical arguments against it. These include: a narrowing of the curriculum, the expense of developing, administering and scoring so many tests, and the fact that nearly 70 percent of teachers work in a grade or subject area where students don’t take a state standardized test. Knab’s PowerPoint is available on’s Evaluation page.

“Everybody knows it’s coming, they just don’t know what’s coming,” said Spotswood EA Vice President Mike Bartlett, referring to a revised teacher evaluation system. Bartlett and three colleagues attended the event in order to learn more about the two teacher practice instruments their district is considering. The Spotswood EA president approached the district’s interim superintendent and suggested that a representative of each building attend the symposium. The superintendent agreed and the four attendees plan to turnkey what they learned at the conference.

“As people learn more, there will be less apprehension about these changes,” said Spotswood EA Secretary and Membership Chair Lauren Arellano.

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