As a new tenure reform bill awaits Gov. Chris Christie’s signature, his administration is moving ahead slowly with the system that could provide the centerpiece of the reforms: a new teacher evaluation system.
A few weeks later than expected, the state Department of Education yesterday announced another 10 mostly suburban districts would be participating in the pilot of a new teacher evaluation system this coming fall.
The state also had hoped to add an additional 10 districts from the pool of communities with high concentrations of poverty, but decided to reopen the grant process when the first round failed to come up with enough qualified districts, officials said.
Still, the addition of 10 new districts could nearly double the size of the pilot for next year. In addition, the state announced 14 more districts would take part in a pilot of a new principal evaluation system, several of which were conducting the teacher pilot this past year.
The 10 new districts announced yesterday will split $1 million in funds for training of staff and development of the evaluation system. The existing 11 districts, if they choose to continue, will split an additional $200,000.
Another 21 districts that had applied to participate next year will be offered to still take part, but without any additional money being offered.
The pilot is seen as a critical test of a teacher and principal evaluation program that will standardize how educators are evaluated in the state, with those evaluations central to how and whether they will receive and retain full tenure rights.
Under the bill passed unanimously by the Legislature this spring, educators will need three years of positive evaluations to receive tenure and could be brought up on tenure charges after two negative ones. Christie has said he will sign the bill but has yet to do so.
How those evaluations are carried out and by whom is what the state wants to test through the pilot, with 11 districts in the first year drawn from small rural ones like Alexandria to large urban ones such Newark and Elizabeth.
The 10 new districts added for next year’s teacher evaluation pilot are:
The 14 districts taking part in the principal evaluation pilot are: