By Desirée Taylor
Teachers in Chatham were among thousands across the state to get their first round of ratings recently. Superintendent Mike Lasusa was generally pleased with the results. But he’s not putting too much stock in them.
“I think it’s important for those of us in the field to not draw immediate and firm conclusions from one set of data because there are different human beings in every classroom every year,” Lasusa said.
Annual evaluations are required under New Jersey’s new teacher tenure law. They get rated on a scale of one to four — four’s a top score, meaning “highly effective;” the lowest — “ineffective.” Tenure can be revoked if a teacher receives a poor rating over two consecutive years.
Asbury Park teacher Fabrice Cuadrado told us by phone he received a good rating, but the process is unsettling.
“Many of us are feeling a little bit overwhelmed and nervous with new teacher evaluations. We’re being evaluated on a new evaluation system that holds us accountable for our students success and failures. I don’t think test scores should be used to reflect our teaching methods and skills,” Cuadrado said.
Test scores are part of the criteria, but not the predominant factor used in evaluating teachers. New Jersey education officials say their goal is to put the best teachers in the classroom and provide support to teachers who need help. But teachers say that support hasn’t yet come in Newark, which is under state control.
“They’re saying it’s mid year. Haven’t received appropriate curriculum. They haven’t received the appropriate resources — text books or other manipulatives that assist in the classroom instruction. That unfortunately is chronic in this district,” said John Abeigon of the Newark Teachers Union.
The NJEA supported the new teacher tenure law. But it’s not certain about using student scores to grade teachers.
“While we support the consideration of student achievement data as part of evaluation, we’re concerned about the use of standardized tests scores. The components of it are the assessment of an observer that goes in to watch the teacherw hile they are performing based on some adopted frame work that describes good teaching and another measure called student growth objectives. Teachers are able to develop along with the principal that sets goals for their students learning,” said Michael Cohan of the NJEA.
Teacher evaluations are confidential and won’t be released to the public. This round was more of a practice session. Next year’s evaluations will count for real.