State Education Dept. defends teacher evaluation proposal

TRENTON – The Department of Education testified today before the Senate Education Committee about the teacher evaluation system it rolled out in a handful of districts.

Instead of rolling it out statewide, the state is testing out the evaluation program in 12 school districts. There are certain advantages for districts to sign up for the program, such as receiving funds to train teachers and make them better. Nearly $1.2 million in total was given to the districts. Funding per school ranged between $49,000 and $206,000, based on the number of teachers per school.

Officials said it could lead to better student results.

“A great teacher evaluation system is the foundation for everything we are going to do in the human capital area,” said Assistant DOE Commissioner Andy Smarick.

The DOE received 31 applications during the summer, of which 12 district were picked, from various socio-economic groups. Officials looked for such factors as comprehensiveness, completeness, accuracy and adherence to guidelines.

Smarick said the pilot program will evaluate a student’s progress based on how much they have learned from the beginning of the school year to the end. This is known as “student growth percentile.”
Not all students will be measured in one way, he said.

“The teacher is compared to other teachers with identical sets of students.”

Teacher evaluators will receive three days of training and will be frequently monitored and coached to ensure accuracy.

There will be three formal observations for non-tenured teachers and two formal observations for tenured teachers, Smarick said.

A state Evaluation Pilot Advisory Committee will be set up to give and receive feedback on the program. It will consist of teachers, superintendents, and school board members, among others.


State Education Dept. defends teacher evaluation proposal