Tenure reform headed to governor

A bill that would reform tenure in the state of New Jersey is headed to the governor for his siganture after passing in the Assembly 79 to 0 and passing for a second time in the Senate.

The bill, which was supported by the state’s largest teachers union, extend the number of years required to attain tenure to four years, requiring a teacher to serve a year of mentorship during the first year of employment.

The bill would institute teacher evaluations conducted by district supervisors and put in place a rating scale ranging from ineffective to highly effective.  To attain tenure, a teacher must attain a rating of effective in two of the first three years after the mentorship.

The bill require tenure charges be brought against a teacher rated ineffective following a partially effective or lower rating the previous year. The bill would allow charges to be brought against a teacher rated partially effective following a partially effective or lower rating the previous year, but the district has the discretion to offer that teacher a third year to reach a effective rating before a tenure charge. 

Teacher disciplinary cases would move to a certified arbitrator from the courts, where an administrative law judge rules on tenure cases.

Teacher evaluations would be conducted by certified supervisors and teachers would be given a rating ranging from ineffective to highly effective.  

The bill makes no changes to teacher seniority and stipulates that student test scores may not be a predominant factor in teacher evaluations.

The bill differs greatly from Gov. Chris Christie’s initial proposal, however it was supported by every member of the legislature.