|NJEA Associate Director of Government Relations Francine Pfeffer testifies before the State BOE on July 10, 2013.
UPDATE: The state’s new teacher evaluation system will be fully implemented in September, even though the State Board of Education isn’t expected to adopt the regulations that govern this system until its Sept. 11 meeting.
Still, teachers and administrators are hard at work creating student growth objectives and familiarizing themselves with their district’s teacher practice model.
The regulations were expected to be adopted at the State Board’s August meeting, but Assistant Commissioner of Education Peter Shulman explained that the delay was caused by the need to comply with New Jersey’s administrative code adoption process. That process requires a 60-day period for written comments after the code has reached proposal level before the State Board.
NJEA repeats its call for gradual rollout of teacher eval system
Published July 11, 2013
It’s been said before, but for the two dozen NJEA members and staff who attended Wednesday’s State Board of Education meeting, it needed to be said again: New Jersey should slow its implementation of the proposed teacher evaluation system to ensure that educators are fully trained and to thoroughly examine the impact of using student standardized test scores to evaluate teachers.
“We should not rush to implement a change that has such high-stakes results without a full understanding of its impact,” said NJEA lobbyist Francine Pfeffer, who spoke during the public testimony portion of the meeting. “Other states across the nation are giving their new evaluation systems the benefit of time.”
Pfeffer referred to a U.S. Department of Education offer that would allow states to postpone the use of standardized tests to make high-stakes personnel decisions.
Last month, NJEA was joined by the five other members of the New Jersey LEE Group (Leadership for Educational Excellence) in signing an open letter to Governor Chris Christie, Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, and the entire Legislature urging New Jersey to apply for a one-year federal waiver on the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers. The Christie administration, however, has ignored this request and plans to fully implement a new system of teacher evaluation in September.
Cerf has repeatedly suggested that the so-called ACHIEVENJ system must start this fall in order to comply with the TEACHNJ Act, signed into law in August 2012. But Pfeffer pointed out that a new system of educator evaluation need not include student growth percentiles (SGP), calling the research on SGPs “mixed.”
“TEACHNJ calls for a measure of student growth; it does not require that we use student growth percentiles, student growth objectives, or a value added model,” Pfeffer noted. “It would be better to take time, see the results of their use, do our own research, and ensure that districts have the time to fully train their staff and implement a system that is fair, reliable, and valid.”
Members testify as part of Lobby Day
Several NJEA members who participated in a Lobby Day at the State Board meeting also presented testimony.
Both Brian Adams and Lance Hilfman spoke about their experiences in districts that participated in the pilot of the new evaluation system.
|NJEA member Brian Adams testifies before the State Board meeting on July 10.
“Currently, no staff member has seen their SGP numbers, yet next year for some it will be used to gauge their effectiveness,” said Adams, who is an eighth-grade teacher in Rockaway.
“To me and my fellow educators, it only makes sense to delay the use of standardized test scores to evaluate teachers to be fair to the educators, who give their all for the children of the State,” he concluded.
Hilfman, who works in Roselle Public Schools, described a similar scenario, and spoke about the poor quality of training on the new system that many educators have received.
Marie Corfield, an art teacher in the Flemington-Raritan School District, responded to a presentation made at the June State Board of Education meeting about a 2011 study on using value-added methods to evaluate teachers.
“Dr. Rockoff touted the ability of a ‘great teacher’ to add $250,000 in earnings to a classroom full of students,” Corfield recalled. Then she noted that a breakdown of Rockoff’s assertion shows that those students would only earn an extra “$4.63 per week.”
“It’s disturbing that someone with the Dr. Rockoff’s credentials would try to sell you this as a significant piece of evidence,” she said.
Corfield echoed the sentiments of the dozens of educators who have testified before the board since the proposed teacher evaluation system was introduced in March: New Jersey’s schools are already among the best in the nation and rushing to implement an unproven evaluation system is not good policy.
“Do we want to look back on this moment in history and know that we got it done right or that we got it done quickly?” Corfield queried.