The Christie administration’s planned pilot of a new statewide teacher evaluation system has begun to draw some interest from school districts, but also a few questions.
Officials of the state Department of Education (DOE) met with nearly 70 districts last week to explain the details of the planned pilot, which would provide $1.1 million to up to nine districts to test out evaluation systems for a year before one is put in place statewide.
The centerpiece of Gov. Chris Christie’s plan would be a requirement that up to half of a teacher’s evaluation be based on tangible measures of student achievement, be they standardized test scores or other student work, depending on the teacher. The rest would be through formal classroom and other observations.
Under Christie’s plan, those evaluations will ultimately be used to determine whether a teacher receives tenure -- and keeps it.
Keeping Its Options Open
But first the administration will try out a few options, and rolling out the pilot for the next school year, state officials said they were encouraged by the early interest. They said more than a dozen districts already intend to apply for the grants by the July 28 deadline.
Andrew Smarick, who hosted the meeting as special assistant to acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, said the applications would be evaluated on a series of factors, including how they will be applied to low-performing schools. The quality and depth of proposed evaluation systems would also be critical, and Smarick said many districts appear to have key pieces in place already.
"It was very encouraging to see that many of them are well along," he said.
One of those intending to apply is the Marlboro school district, which sent two members to the meeting last week.
Superintendent David Abbott said the district has put in place an evaluation system that is among the options in the state’s plan, one designed by Princeton-based education consultant Charlotte Danielson.
"A lot of the things we have to do we have done already, so we thought it far better to be on the front end of this and making a difference in the design than having it imposed on us," said Abbott yesterday.
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