Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Christie School Reform: Let's Recognize, Nourish Success

Moving forward with the goal of ensuring that New Jersey has the highest-performing teachers and administrators in the country, Governor Chris Christie has put forward a bold reform agenda to recognize and cultivate talented and effective educators in our schools. The Governor’s agenda recognizes that the quality of the teacher in front of the classroom is the most important in-school factor affecting student achievement, which is why promoting talent among our state’s educators is one of the Four Building Blocks for Success in New Jersey's Schools, along with accountability and performance, academics, and innovation.

Governor Christie and Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf today visited Roy W. Brown Middle School in Bergenfield, one of the ten districts chosen to participate in the Excellent Educators for New Jersey (EE4NJ) teacher evaluation pilot program over the course of the 2011-12 school year, a critical step in reforming educator evaluations and the Governor’s educator talent Building Block. Because of the Governor’s commitment to supporting and reforming education, Bergenfield received an additional $1.15 million in state aid this fiscal year, part of an $850 million overall increase in state education aid over Fiscal Year 2011.

"New Jersey ranks among the top states in the nation in student achievement according to a number of measures, and we owe all of our teachers a tremendous debt of gratitude for their hard work and dedication. The reforms we are pursuing make the talent and effectiveness of our educators a top priority," said Governor Christie. "It is past time that our education system allows us to identify and reward good teachers with better pay and career opportunities, help those who are struggling, and provide a pathway to remove those who aren’t meeting the standards our children need and deserve. Districts taking part in a teacher evaluation pilot like Bergenfield are providing the leadership needed to ensure that we have teacher evaluation systems that treat teachers with the respect and recognition they deserve for the great work they do every day for our children.”

Educator talent as a Building Block for Success means rewarding the many quality educators in our state, getting support to those who need improvement, and, if necessary, removing those comparatively few who are unable to improve. To accomplish this, Governor Christie has outlined specific reform proposals to provide for meaningful educator evaluations that focus on results for children, a system of compensation that rewards demonstrably effective teachers, expanded opportunities for great teachers, including new career ladders and preparation programs, and changes to New Jersey’s tenure system to ensure fairness and effectiveness.

· Multiple measures approach to teacher evaluations: The Excellent Educators for New Jersey teacher evaluation pilot program will evaluate teachers based on multiple measures of teacher practice and learning outcomes for students, with 50 percent associated with each, and never based on a single consideration much less a single test. Evaluations will be based on student progress versus absolute performance, will have a direct link between the results of the evaluation and professional development opportunities, and will have clear and consistent criteria both for teachers and evaluators.

· Dramatically reforming the tenure system to ensure fairness and effectiveness: The Governor proposes changing the state’s antiquated tenure rules so that teachers will keep or receive tenure based on what matters the most – whether students are actually learning. Using a revamped teacher evaluation system, teachers should earn tenure if they are rated effective or highly-effective for three years in a row. If a teacher is found to be ineffective or partly effective for two consecutive years, they should lose the privilege of tenure.

· Reforming the compensation system to reward qualified and effective teachers: Currently, the only way for teachers to earn higher salaries is based on an additional year of service or credit accumulation – neither of which accurately measure teacher performance in a classroom. The Governor’s proposal allows for differentiated pay for teachers, including merit pay for performance and additional incentives for teachers in hard-to-staff positions and the highest need schools.

· Expanding opportunities for great teachers to succeed: In addition to helping good teachers become great teachers, we must expand the opportunities that drive success in the classroom. The Governor has proposed establishing new credentials and career ladders for teachers, expanding opportunities to receive updated certification, and strengthening training programs to ensure that all students have well-prepared teachers.

"Research shows that the quality of a teacher in front of the classroom is the most important in-school factor affecting student learning. That’s why we must ensure that we have a teacher evaluation system that fairly and meaningfully measures teacher performance and is centered first and foremost on helping all teachers, regardless of their level, constantly improve their practice," said Acting Commissioner Cerf. "Current evaluations fall far short of this goal. Reviews, if conducted at all, are often perfunctory, based on unclear standards and frequently bear little relationship to the central objective of good teaching - advancing student learning.”

Based on the recommendations of the New Jersey Educator Effectiveness Task Force , the Department of Education developed a competitive grant process to award $1.1 million in federal and state money and outlined a framework for participating districts to implement the new evaluation system. Pilot districts will help to shape the new system, providing critical input and feedback that will frame the statewide roll-out in 2012.

Districts participating in the teacher evaluation pilot program, including Bergenfield, were selected from among 31 applicants, and pending final review procedures, will split $1.1 million in grant funds made available by the state. An eleventh district, Newark, will also participate in the pilot through a separate grant.

The new framework for evaluating teachers will be implemented based on multiple measures of teacher practice and student performance.

To see a list of the participating districts visit:

For more information on the pilot program, please visit

No comments: