DOE Picks Rutgers University to Critique Teacher Evaluation Pilot Program

February 28, 2012

TRENTON – The state Education Department on Tuesday said it selected Rutgers University Graduate School of Education to conduct an independent evaluation of the Excellent Educators for New Jersey (EE4NJ) teacher evaluation pilot program that is currently being conducted in 10 school districts it selected in August.

The evaluation will identify successes and challenges in implementing a new educator evaluation system and will inform statewide rollout of a new evaluation framework in the 2013-14 school year.

Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf said he is “excited” about the opportunity to partner with the state’s largest public university and its group of nationally-recognized and experienced researchers

“Over the past five months, we have begun the effort to develop a more fair, consistent, and learning-centered teacher evaluation system that will help all teachers, regardless of experience, continuously improve their practice,” Cerf said in a statement. “The purpose of the pilot is to empower our educators to drive this new evaluation framework, and we have already made great strides over the last several months in working with pilot districts.”

William Firestone, professor of Education Policy at Rutgers Graduate School of Education and principal investigator, echoed Cerf’s sentiments.

“We are pleased to assist the New Jersey Department of Education and educators throughout the state by conducting this evaluation,” Firestone said. “The pilot of the teacher evaluation is very important for helping the state develop a feasible set of state guidelines and ensuring that the resulting policy improves the quality of teaching in the state,”  “Our work with the pilot districts will provide an objective view to ensure that the program is well designed and constructive.”

The pilot evaluation program is designed to allow flexibility to districts to experiment with a more comprehensive system. The evaluation would be based on student learning outcomes, progress in test scores and subjects instead of just performance, provide teachers tools for improvement,

The Rutgers team will utilize surveys, focus groups, interviews, and an analysis of teacher practice and student growth data from the pilot districts to see how it’s being implemented. Specifically, it will address the extent and quality of implementation, barriers and successes, and comparison with previous evaluation systems.

The “outcomes” evaluation will provide information on the ability of the pilot program to achieve its stated goals and will look at the distributions of evaluation ratings and student growth data.

Rutgers will present interim reports throughout the program to help refine the teacher evaluation program and will also present a final report at the end of the contract. 

“We committed to learning as much as possible during this pilot year to ensure that the ultimate framework we provide for all districts in 2013-14 is as strong as possible,” Cerf said. “This Rutgers team brings the experience and rigor necessary to guide this process and inform the development of our new system.  We are grateful for their participation and look forward to working with them in the coming months.