As we embark on the new teacher evaluation system, it is normal to have questions. The uncertainty is even more understandable given the fact that the State regulations are not due to be finalized until August or September. Below is a list of questions which have been brought up by our members, as well as a link which will bring you to the most updated information from the State and the NJEA. This is a living document. It will be updated as new information is available and/or clarification is needed.
Frequently Asked Questions on Teacher Evaluation
1) Can you specify which standards/elements are observable and which are verifiable?
When you log-on to the self-assessment you will see an eyeball next to the standards/elements that are observable.
2) Can you select more than one category – such as proficient and accomplished? How many criteria need to be met to fall into a category like accomplished?
Yes, you can check boxes under various categories throughout the self-assessment. However, your overall rating on a given element will be no higher than the last category in which you were able to select EVERY box (vertically). For example, if you checked everything in developing and proficient, most in accomplished, and one in distinguished – your rating would be proficient, which was the last section where all boxes were checked. The various ratings from each element/standard will generate your overall level of performance.
3) Are there resources to help me better understand what the elements represent under each standard?
- Yes. There are descriptions of each within the McRel system itself. However, it is very helpful to use Edison’s document – which provides indicators for the various elements. Although this is only a draft at present, it does provide clarity as to how members should interpret the self-assessment. This should have been made available by building administration.
4) Will the indicators which state how members can “prove” their levels of proficiency change from year to year?
The new evaluation system is a growth model not just for teachers, but for education as a whole. As education changes, so must the criteria for meeting the standards. Therefore, there is every possibility the indicators MAY change at some point.
5) Can I leave questions blank if they don’t apply to me?
Each element and standard is meant to assess performance both inside and outside of the traditional classroom setting. Therefore, there should not be a need for leaving items blank.The “not demonstrated” category is the one no one wants to be in, as this category has the most negative connotation. It means that the administrator observing the class believes that the items in the category are not being done, even though the teacher has the ability to do an effective job. For instance, if the teacher is belittling the children in the class, “not demonstrated” can be applied to Standard 1, Element D; Standard 2, Element A; and Standard 2, Element D. A comment is required to explain the use of the rating. “Not observed” simply means that there was no application of the category at the time of the observation. This is a no harm, no foul category. For the purposes of the self-assessment, neither category should be used.
6) Do we do another self-assessment at the beginning of next year?
It is our understanding that the self-assessment is completed once each year, either at the beginning of the year or the end of the previous year for the year that follows. Staff and administration then work from that assessment for the duration of the year.
7) Do we need to provide evidence of all standards and all elements?
The District is not looking for us to send in pages of documentation for every standard/element. Artifacts DO NOT need to be and should not be submitted for everything. For example, submission of artifacts may be necessary if a teacher wants to illustrate the difference between a “proficient” and an “accomplished” rating.
8) Can we use the special education students’ IEP goals to determine the SGO?
The District is working to create SGOs by content area that will apply to all students and will measure their individual growth. They will be based on reading and writing. More information will follow by year’s end. Interested staff members are able to create their own SGOs, but they MUST meet specific guidelines and have administrator approval.
9) How is it possible for such a large District to execute, evaluate, and maintain the McRel evaluation system – which seems very detailed and specific?
Luckily, that’s one aspect with which we do not need to concern ourselves. The District is charged with addressing that issue, which will require a strong coordination of schedules, etc. from all levels of administration. This will include the need to determine who is responsible for which observation, scheduling pre/post conferences, and deciding who completes the final/summative evaluation.
10) Is there a separate evaluation for nurses, speech-language, etc.?
At this time, it appears the District has chosen to evaluate all staff working under the teachers’ contract under the McRel system. Further information as to what that will look like for members not in traditional classroom settings and/or howit will work will need to come from administration.
11) Will we still have walkthroughs and will they be incorporated into the McRel system?
As we understand it now, walkthroughs will continue and – as is presently the case – they are non-evaluative. They are simply a means of data collection.
12) How many observations will I have each year?
Although the proposed state regulations call for a minimum of three observations per year for all staff, it will not be put into effect until our existing contract expires. The State regulations take effect immediately upon the existing contract’s expiration, regardless of whether or not a new contract settlement has been reached. For the coming school year (2013-2014), all tenured staff will have one full observation following the McRel model. However, all other contract language/timelines must be followed this year.
13) What if I disagree with my evaluation?
All members are entitled to provide a rebuttal (addendum) to their evaluation.
14) Why is the District changing the rating levels under McRel?
The District is not changing the rating levels. The challenge lies in the fact that there are four levels of proficiency under the State regulations and there are five under the McRel system. The District has to determine how to best “marry” these levels.
15) Have the state regulations been finalized?
- No. The State regulations are not due to be finalized until early August, following a two month comment period beginning on June 1st. Be sure to visit the state site to add your comments and gain insight into where the conversation is going.
16) What supports does the ETEA have in place to help us through this process?
The ETEA is part of the District Evaluation Advisory Panel(DEAC) and has been able to provide valuable insight at the table. In addition, we have our own Evaluation Committee in place which is charged with monitoring the roll-out and implementation of the new evaluation system. There is a School Improvement Panel (ScIP) in place at each building. The ETEA member who is part of the ScIP is there as a resource and support for all staff, especially those who find themselves on Corrective Action Plans. They are charged with monitoring that all guidelines are being followed, professional development is available (not the implementation of), and that members are supported. ETEA members on the ScIP are NOT to be involved in observing, evaluating, and/or the creation of Corrective Action Plans. Of course, each building also has their Head AR(s) and alternate reps who should be used as resources.
17) About what, if anything, should I be most concerned?
We should all know the standards, the elements that fall under each, recognize what we already do well, and set our personal goals to move forward. In addition, we need to get in the habit of documenting everything we do – inside and out of the classroom. For many among us, the documentation will be the most challenging piece.
- Following is a link to the NJEA Evaluation page.It provides up to date information on where we are with the evaluation process, as well as the history of how we arrived at this point. There are links to “Frequently Asked Questions” and the NJDOE “AchieveNJ” information page. Information on facts, testimony presented, and opinion pieces are also available. Topics such as the use of test scores to evaluate teachers, merit pay, and value added measures are addressed as well. There is a link to the NJEA Resource Guide on Evaluation for Teachers, which provides an avenue through which teachers can begin the documentation process for each school year, along with items that should be considered as the new evaluation system begins.