Majority of NJ Schools Opt for Widely Used Teacher- Evaluation Method

John Mooney | N.J. Spotlight

As New Jersey public schools get ready for next school year’s newly mandated teacher-evaluation system, a majority of them are opting to use a system created by a Princeton-based firm.

Close to 60 percent of nearly 500 school districts have chosen models scripted by the Danielson Group of Princeton, according to preliminary results reported yesterday by the state Department of Education.

The picks were hardly surprising, as the group’s namesake, Charlotte Danielson, has dominated the teacher-evaluation arena for the last several years in New Jersey, if not nationwide.

Still, it speaks to the power and popularity of the Princeton-based consultant’s way of measuring teacher effectiveness, an approach split into different “domains” pertaining to teacher planning, pedagogy and leadership.

“It’s been around a long time, and gone through several iterations, and certainly proved strong for us,” said Brian Osborne, superintendent of South Orange/Maplewood schools, which have used the Danielson model for several years.

“It is very teacher-friendly and has a real good orientation to what teaching and learning looks like,” said Osborne, who also chairs the statewide advisory committee on teacher evaluation.

The state’s results are preliminary, with 15 percent of districts still not reporting their choice of evaluation instruments in compliance with this week’s deadline, which is included in the state’s new tenure law that required districts to have evaluation instruments chosen by the start of this calendar year and in place for the start of the next school year in September.

While Danielson clearly leads the pack, about 40 percent of districts reporting have chosen other evaluation models. Following is a breakdown of the choices:

  • Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teachers 291 districts
  • Stronge Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Performance System 53 districts
  • Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) Teacher Evaluation Standards 45 districts
  • Marzano's Causal Teacher Evaluation Model 44 districts
  • The Marshall Rubrics 32 districts

The state also released data on new principal-evaluation models chosen by New Jersey school districts. The most popular was a model developed by Kim Marshall, a Massachusetts-based consultant, which was the choice of nearly a quarter of the districts picking his model.

The breakdown of the leading principal-evaluation measures:

  • The Marshall Principal Evaluation Rubrics 107 districts
  • Multidimensional Principal Performance Rubric (MPPR) 102 districts
  • Stronge Leader Effectiveness Performance Evaluation Model 87 districts
  • Marzano's School Leadership Evaluation Model 58 districts
  • Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) Balanced Leadership: Principal Evaluation System 55 districts

Of the 496 districts reporting so far, virtually every one said it has put in place new “school improvement panels” that will oversee teacher evaluation and professional development in each school.

Meanwhile, the Christie administration is preparing information with specifics on how the evaluation systems will be put in place under proposed regulations, which include the controversial use of student performance in judging teachers.

To be presented to the State Board of Education in March, the proposed regulations have been a closely-guarded secret for the administration, but it sent a memo to districts this week saying that it would hold public forums across the state in the coming months to seek input.

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