Thursday, December 19, 2013

Principal Evaluation Models

Principal Evaluation Models

With the implementation of No Child Left Behind and, more recently, Race to the Top, more emphasis than ever is being placed on the concept of ‘student success’.  School districts are assessing the effectiveness of teachers and principals in an effort to improve education in America.

In New Jersey, a principal evaluation pilot program is under way.  Since 2010, New Jersey Department of Education has been working to improve education evaluation and supports.   According to the NJDOE website, “The principal evaluation pilot program is the next step in the effort to improve educator evaluation state-wide, following the recommendations of the 2011 Educator Effectiveness Task Force.”  According to the website, a new principal, assistant principal, or vice principal must be rated either effective or highly effective in two annual summative evaluations within the first three years of employment.  

In 2012, New Jersey state legislature unanimously passed the TEACHNJ Act, mandating new requirements for the statewide educator evaluation system and links tenure decisions to evaluation ratings.  The result: AchieveNJ, the improved evaluation and support system throughout New Jersey for the 2013-14 academic year. 

AchieveNJ is designed to recognize those who excel, identify those who need additional support, and provide meaningful feedback and professional development to help all principals become great school leaders.  It relies on multiple measures of performance to evaluate teachers and administrators. These measures include components of both student achievement and teacher practice.  NJDOE approved evaluation instruments include: James Stronge’s Leadership Effectiveness Performance Evaluation System, Dr. Robert Marzano’s Administrative Evlauation Model, and McRELS’s Principal Evaluation System.  

The overall evaluation score combines the multiple measures of principal practice and student growth. All New Jersey principals earn one of four ratings: Highly Effective, Effective, Partially Effective, or Ineffective. To maintain tenure, all principals have to continue to earn a rating of Effective or Highly Effective.  Any principal, assistant principal, or vice principal who is rated Ineffective or Partially Effective on his or her evaluation will receive additional support through a corrective action plan.   

  • Increases accountability beyond teachers.  All faculty members share the responsibility of ensuring the optimal student learning environment
  • Evaluations are assessed on research based criteria
  • Emphasizes change in low performing districts
  • Urges lower performing districts to engage in change - whether it is through new action plans or by bringing in a new principal

  • Evaluation process is time consuming
  • Training staff in new evaluation models is time consuming and expensive
  • New teacher evaluation is still in progress.  How will this impact the efficacy of new principal evaluation standards? 
  • The state isn’t involved in local community, making this another ‘top down’ policy that may not be able to tailor to each district’s particular needs
  • Reform measurements do not take into consideration social problems/obstacles outside the school that impact performance within the school - such as lower SES areas or heavily urbanized districts
  • Use of standardized tests mark success and progress for both students and teachers
    • Over emphasis of these measures doesn’t allow teacher and principals to address other needs of students
    • How does the Special Education population fit in with this evaluation system?

While it is imperative that schools continue to improve educational standards, it is equally important to set realistic goals.  Demanding excellent education for students is easy in theory, 
however, large scale changes can take years to implement.  When devising the strategies to ensure quality education, there are many obstacles to overcome.  Forcing too much change in a short period of time may not be the most effective practice.  However, no improvement occurs without change.  


Ornstein, A.C. & Hunkins, F.P. (2004). Curriculum: Foundations, principles, and issues.  Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Teacher Evaluation Models

Students need great teachers to learn to the best of their potential. New Jersey set out to ensure that only highly-qualified and effective teachers earn tenure and instruct our students.  In 2012, the State Legislature unanimously passed a law requiring new teacher and principal evaluations to be implemented by this 2013–14 school year. AchieveNJ is designed to recognize those who excel, identify those who need additional support, and provide meaningful feedback and professional development to all teachers. There are seven performance standards associated with the “make-up” of a successful teacher. These are the basis of teacher evaluation models and are as follows: professional knowledge, instructional planning, iinstructional delivery, aassessment of learning, fostering a positive learning environment, exhibiting professionalism, and overall student progress.
Teacher performance be documented with observations, student learning objectives, documentation logs, student artifacts (which provide evidence of meeting certain standards), and  student surveys. Teacher performance be rated by four point rating scale proposed by NJ.
1.Highly Effective-Teacher maintains performance that consistently and considerably surpasses established standard.
2. Effective- consistent with the schools mission & goals.

3. Partially Effective- performance below established standard, inconsistent with schools mission/goals.
4. Ineffective- Consistently performs below established standards

The modern teacher evaluation template places inflexible timelines on the conditions for removal of tenure. Typical legislation dictates that teacher tenure either can or must be revoked and the teacher dismissed after 2 consecutive years of being rated ineffective (where tenure can only be achieved after 3 consecutive years of being rate effective).
One of the approved systems is the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model was developed by Robert Marzano. The sole focus of this model is that, “Every teacher will increase their expertise to sufficient levels every year to move student achievement.” The Marzano method studies the nuances of teachers that effects students’ achievement. It works on a developmental continuum and is research-based. Furthermore, the model is set up to support the idea of teachers growing over time. There are 4 domains. All are connected to student achievement. Domain 1:  Classroom Strategies and Behaviors. Domain 2: Planning and Preparing. Domain 3: Reflecting on Teaching. Domain 4: Collegiality and Professionalism.

Another widely used model is the Danielson Framework for Teaching. This method operates with two broad purposes. The first is quality assurance, meaning, “How do we ensure the most qualified teachers are in front of students on a daily basis”. The second purpose is professional learning, (i.e making sure the evaluations are used to help teachers grow). A clear definition of what good teaching is, along with levels of performance can help foster successful teachers. Evaluations can be used as a coaching tool to help teachers move to the next level. Instruments and procedures, Procedures for collecting observations, Teachers know what they are evaluated on.
A benefit of using teacher evaluation models are that effective teachers will receive tenure, ineffective one will not. Also, teachers will now receive explicit quality feedback that provides a clear perspective of performance and guidance on setting professional development goals. They can use this feedback constructively to improve their practices and in turn become more effective teachers.

The main drawback of the new teacher evaluation system is that a teachers rating and tenure status also rely on the results of student performance, including standardized test scores.  Teachers do have control over the quality of their teaching practices, but not their situations of their students that may impact learning. Also, the cost to implement the approved teacher evaluation models is quite high. Many would argue, this is a cost that would be better spent elsewhere in a school budget.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Teacher Evaluation Models

Teacher Evaluation
            Last summer, in New Jersey, the state of education was altered. Under the Landmark Tenure Reform, districts were forced to change the way teachers are observed. Through this change, the effectiveness of a teacher, and the decision of tenure is now determined based off of classroom observations and student performance, specifically on statewide standardized testing.
            What is good teaching? That is the question that surrounds the idea behind this reform. The overall idea is to put the most effective teacher in front of our students at all times. The state of NJ has developed guidelines to help districts successfully evaluate teachers. Depending on the model used by the district, it must require that objective first, “measurement of student achievement growth be considered in a weighting system of parallel components. Next it requires teachers be placed into effectiveness categories by assigning arbitrary numerical cutoffs to the aggregated weighted evaluation components, meaning a teacher will fall into a percentage which allows a label to be added (effective, partially effective, etc.). Finally, the modern teacher evaluation template places inflexible timelines on conditions for removal of tenure” (NJEA, 2013).
            Off of these requirements, four major evaluation methods are predominately seen in the schools of NJ. The Marzano Evaluation Model sole focus is that every teacher will increase his or her expertise to sufficient levels every year. So the focus is placed on constant improvement and development. Marzano’s approach is completed through four domains, which serves a blueprint for teachers to constantly improve. The unique idea Marzano tries to portray with this system is that the teacher is seen on a developmental continuum. The second approach that is seen throughout districts in NJ is Danielson Evaluation System. “Danielson demystified teaching by defining it through four domains of professional responsibility, with components such as managing student behavior and engaging students in learning” (Danielson 1996). Next, the Stronge Evaluation System looks to prove that, “Effectiveness is the goal; Evaluation is merely the means”.  Through this method, the basis of teacher evaluation is measured on seven performance standards, which allow for a rating of highly effective, effective, partially effective, and ineffective. Finally, the McRel system is another evaluation method that is seen often in NJ. McREL’s Teacher Evaluation System is based on 21st century standards and five sets of formative rubrics aligned with these standards.
The common theme in amongst all these methods is the idea of domains, which allows for a breakdown of how a teacher should basically construct their day. This is a positive that teacher evaluation models offer, a comprehensive breakdown of what is expected to be considered an effective teacher. Also, another benefit using evaluation methods, is that they are largely research based, so the aspects that are being measured have been proven to be effective qualities to gain optimal results in students.
The main drawback with these methods is that a teachers rating and tenure status also falls on the results of student performance (i.e. standardized testing). The problem with this is that a teacher is possibly, being penalized due to the fact that cognitively the student cannot keep pace on a normative level. That doesn’t mean his teacher is to blame for this. How can you grade a student considered special ed against a student in the top of his class and then say the teacher is at fault if the special ed student cannot score in the norm range. The NJEA likes the idea of observing teachers in the classroom, but a 35 percentage that is given to standardized testing and the decision on teacher evaluation and tenure is where the argument lies. The amount of weight put on standardized testing does not take into account outside forces that has an effect on the scores. “Some people choose to ignore it, but parental support and general cultural support matter hugely. There are whole populations of kids who don’t have that” (Danielson). Finally, the cost to implement these systems is very high. There are ways to earn grant money (i.e. Race To The Top, 2009) however this isn’t guaranteed and sometimes the cost still is in excess to what is given to a district.


Calefati, J. (2013). Back to School: Teachers Frustrated, Nervous About New Evaluation System.

Patterson, M.J. (2012). An Expert Discusses the Pros and Cons of Teacher Evaluation.

Teaching Practice Evaluation Instruments.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Regional Achievement Centers (RAC)

The Christie administration’s reorganization of the state education department is moving out into the field, with plans to create seven “regional achievement centers” that will serve as satellite bureaus (Mooney, 2011).  The focus will be on the 100 to 150 lowest-performing schools, the bottom 5 percent that has increasingly become the focus of reform efforts not just in New Jersey but nationwide. 

The Department of Education has been undergoing a fundamental shift from a system of oversight and monitoring to service delivery and support.  The Department continues to recognize high performing “Reward” schools and shift significant resources and support to “priority” and Focus” schools, those schools that are the lowest performing in the state or that have significant achievement gaps (NJDOE, 1996).  Seven field-based Regional Achievement Centers (RACs) staffed with expert school turnaround teams work directly with Priority and Focus Schools to implement proven turnaround principles and dramatically improve student achievement.

The Department of Education has significantly reorganized how the public engages with schools and districts.  The NJDOE launched seven field-based Regional Achievement Centers (RACs), as outlined in New Jersey’s No Child Left Behind Waiver, charged with improvement in New Jersey’s most struggling schools.  The Department has shifted significant resources to directly support “Priority” and “Focus” schools, those schools that are the lowest performing in the state or that have significant achievement gaps (NJDOE, 1996). 

If interventions are implemented faithfully, the Department believes that each Priority and Focus School should achieve sustained, positive growth in student achievement that dramatically narrows the achievement gap and sets schools on a trajectory for preparing all students for college and career (NJDOE, 1996). 

The mission of the Regional Achievement Centers per the New Jersey Department of Education website is the following: New Jersey’s Regional Achievement Centers, struggling schools, and their districts will partner to set clear goals for student growth, put proven turnaround principles into action, and use data to drive decision-making and accountability.  Working together, we will meet our shared goal of closing the achievement gap and preparing all of our students for success in college and career. 

The Regional Achievement Centers are based off of the following four guiding principles:

Partnership: Regional Achievement Centers, Priority and Focus Schools, and their districts work together.

Research base: School turnaround principles proven to drive student achievement are put into action.

Support: High impact professional development is regularly provided to teachers, leaders, and Regional Achievement Center teams.  Resources are targeted to support Priority and Focus Schools.

Accountability: Clear goals and data drive decision-making.  RAC teams, priority and Focus Schools, and their districts are held directly accountable for results. 


"What Are Regional Achievement Centers?" What Are Regional Achievement Centers?N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.

Mooney, John. "Education." Department to Set Up Seven 'Regional Achievement Centers' N.p., Oct.-Nov. 2007. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Principal Evaluation Model

Angela Gwathney
Position Post 2

Principal Evaluation Models
One of the many changes within the NJ school system that have commenced during the 2013-2014 school year has been the principal evaluation model. The law TEACHNJ passed in 2012 mandated this new educator evaluation system for the current school year. The New Jersey Achieve works to recognize principals or teachers who exceed expectations and those that need additional support. The NJ Achieve also promotes strong and knowledgeable administrators.
This new legislature applies to all principals (i.e. vice principals and assistant principals). Principals are rated and assessed through multiple measures. Highly effective, effective, partially effective, and ineffective are the four potential ratings a principal may receive as their summative rating. For principals who already have tenure, they must receive a rating of effective or highly effective.
 One aspect in which principals are measured on are Student Growth Objectives (SGOs), which encompass 10% of their summative rating, based on the average teacher SGO score in their school (New Jersey Department of Education, 2013). SGOs are, “measurable academic goals that teachers set for their students based on growth achievement” (New Jersey Department of Education, 2013).
Administrator Goals are another factor that principals are evaluated on. Administrator goals are self-explanatory in that administrator goals are simply goals principals set within their school. Administrator goals encompass anywhere from 10-40% of a principal’s evaluation score depending on the type of school the principal works in (New Jersey Department of Education, 2013).
Principals are also evaluated on School Student Growth Percentile (SGP). SGPs are, “state-calculated scores that measure a principal’s ability to help increase student achievement on the NJ ASK” (New Jersey Department of Education, 2013). This accounts for 20% of Single-Grade SGP principals and 30% of Multi-Grade SGP principal’s rating.
Regardless of the type of principal, principal practice accounts for 30% of a principal’s assessment. Similar to a teacher’s observations, a superintendent may do a school walk-through as a way to evaluate a principal. This may entail staff meetings, conferences with parents, and or school events. Minimum requirements for non-tenured principals entail three observations per school year. Those principals who are tenured must have a minimum of two observations per school year. Principals who are rated poorly must have an extra observation and partake in a corrective action plan.
Evaluation of leadership is the last factor principals are evaluated. It measures, “how well the principal implements the new teacher evaluation system within their school” (New Jersey Department of Education, 2013). The evaluation of leadership encompasses two domains. The first domain has two components that assess how principals build knowledge and collaboration. The second domain has four components that assess how well the principal executes the evaluation system.
One positive aspect of the NJ Achieve is that it now gives educators an idea statistically of how far their students improve. Data that teachers acquire from SGPs show how far students have excelled from one point in the school year to another. Another beneficial facet of NJ Achieve is the CAP that identifies those principals who need additional support and improvement as an administrator.
On the other hand there are negative elements of the NJ Achieve as well. If a school continuously performs poorly on the student achievement tests, the principal is subject to being dismissed, transferred or demoted. In working within the education system its known that there are many contributing factors in why students perform poorly academically. Many of these influencing factors can be outside the domain of a school (i.e home life, parenting, friends, and family). The fact that a principal’s job security is reliant on students and teachers performance in some ways is unfair.
With change, there are always beneficial and negative circumstances that come about. Job security for principals is a major concern raised within the principal evaluation changes. Hopefully in time the many changes that have recently been implemented this school year will prove to be positive.


New Jersey Department of Education. (2013). AchieveNJ: Principal Evaluation and Support 2013-14. Retrieved from