Local Districts Launching New Teacher Evaluation Program
Watchung Hills and its sending districts form coalition for program initiation.
In hopes of gaining a state grant, as well as simplifying the state-mandated launch of a new teacher evaluation system, Watchung Hills Regional and its four sending districts united to institute a new evaluation system beginning in September.
Watchung Hills and Warren had been eyeing instituting one of the four state-approved systems, but of the districts signed on to use a method known as the Danielson Framework, combining resources for training and even applying for a grant to help defray the costs of the program. Although the grant application did not get a favorable outcome, the establishment of the consortium has helped the districts advance the launch of the system to this fall.
Under the state's Excellent Educators for New Jersey, or EE4NJ, program, all school districts must have one of four pre-approved evaluation frameworks in place by the 2013-2014 school year. Each of the frameworks will require school administrators to perform a minimum of three classroom observations of tenured teachers each year, and five for non-tenured tenured, teachers, and complete a written assessment of the teachers according to their proficiency in several areas.
The frameworks also include ratings based on student performance.
Teachers receiving "not proficient" marks in key categories can lose tenure, and without improvement, their jobs, according to Green Brook Superintendent Richard Labbe.
Local superintendents say the requirements will mean each administrator will spend as much as 170 hours during the school year on the evaluations—Watchung Borough Schools Superintendent Barbara Resko estimated each teacher's evaluation will take about two hours to complete.
The districts also each budgeted $30,000 to $40,000 for training and for purchasing the Teachscape computer program, which will be used by evaluators to tally and compile their observations. The grant woud have helped pay for the expense, but since the program has been budgeted, the districts are moving forward regardless.
"We were disappointed to not receive the grant, since a great deal of collaboration among the sending districts took place and since the state-mandated change will be costly," Warren Superintendent Tami Crader said. "However, the fact that we did not receive the grant will not delay our implementation."
In the last few weeks, administrators from the districts have been receiving training, and at least some of the high school teachers will begin training on Aug. 28, according to Watchung Hills Superintendent Frances Stromsland.
The change may be one of the biggest changes in the schools in the coming year, but one parents will not notice—at least, for a while.