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New Jersey Governor Outlines New Teacher Evaluation Plan
posted by: Alix | April 08, 2011, 06:23 PM   

This has been a big week for the state of New Jersey in education, again centered on outspoken Governor Chris Christie. In an interview with ABC News that aired Wednesday, Christie said he puts blame on the unions for resisting change that he thinks will benefit students in the long run. He was both revered and attacked for calling NJEA officials "union thugs". Not only did Governor Christie again make headlines for his harsh words for the union, but a new and long awaited plan to evaluate teachers in the state.

Governor Christie spelled out his plans on teacher tenure and evaluation in front of an audience of national experts on Thursday at the Washington D.C. based think tank, the Brookings Institution. The long awaited plan has been the cornerstone of the statewide education reform debate that has been heating up since the Governor took office.

Christie said his proposals will call for school districts to have significant discretion in constructing its own teacher and principal evaluation systems but that growth in test scores, grades and other metrics should serve to make up half of each teacher's annual evaluation. Districts should also design their own subjective evaluation based on administrators' in-class observations and other criteria.

"If you empower teachers to be a large part of the decision-making process, it will work," Christie said of the plan. "I think that will lower the fear level." He also stressed that he would not allow the unions to influence the creation of the local evaluation criteria. He indicated that teachers and administrators know their local students best and should ultimately have the influence on how staff is measured for salaries and tenure policies.

New Jersey Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf said that the state still planned to create a more complete statewide database of student test scores and other information. The state would also provide guidance to districts on how to create the proposed teacher evaluation model.

Interestingly Governor Christie' plan echoes many of the themes of the 2010 AAE member survey. As our members know, we only take education policy decision based directly on the views of our membership. The survey, taken last summer by members in all 50 states, showed support for many of the evaluation criteria outlined by Governor Christie.

Among our findings, eighty percent of teachers surveyed supported a value-added model of student assessment when student test scores are used as a part of teacher evaluation. In fact, student test scores ranked higher in evaluating teacher effectiveness second to only administrative/ faculty review. Much like Christie's plan AAE members are in support of student test scores being part of their evaluation if they are used in conjunction with other quantifiers, such as peer review.

Governor Christie is certainly on to something when he says he is willing to work with teachers to come up with a plan that incorporates the actual concerns and suggestions from real life educators.

What do you think of Governor Christie's plan and harsh words for the NJEA?
Comment below.

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Performance based evaluation
written by anonymous, IL, April 12, 2011

In New Jersey and these states where legislators and school administrators are pushing for student test scores to become a part of teacher evaluations, is the test somehow tied to graduation requirements? Do the student have to attain a certain score to graduate? I feel that if a student isn't held accountable, how can a teacher be evaluated based on that student's score.

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