On Wednesday, July 15th, the New Jersey Department Of Education (NJDOE) released a state-, county-, district-, and school-level database on 2013-14 teacher evaluations. The database is a result of TEACHNJ Act, which stands for “Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey” Act. Passed in 2012, TEACHNJ Act has both its supporters and critics who – while agreeing on its intent to improve evaluations for teachers throughout the state – differ on the impact to student learning as well as the reliability of measuring educators’ performance.
The TEACHING Act increases one year to the tenure process (from three to four) but it also provides an opportunity for those teachers to be mentored. Additionally, a School Improvement Panel, which is a school administrator (principal) and a designee (usually a vice principal or veteran teacher), is responsible for performing the evaluations and supervising the mentoring.
The scoring was separated into four (4) different levels (‘Highly Effective’, ‘Effective’, ‘Partially Effective’, and ‘Ineffective’) with a numbering system between 1 and 4 that were obtained from averaging various elements including planning, instruction, professionalism, environment, and student growth objectives. The levels were separated, according to the NJ DOE, into the following breakdown:
The database does not contain specific evaluations of individual teachers, but that of schools and districts.
In addition to the data provided, suppression rules have been included to further remove the ability to discover an individual’s evaluation. The suppression rules applied were as follow:
- Records that had a count less than ten (10) were suppressed. On the NJDOE website, an example was provided where if nine (9) or fewer staff received a rating of Ineffective (or any other category), the record would be suppressed and not be part of the data file.
- When one performance level is suppressed due to the reason above – and all four performance level ratings are present, the next lowest staff count will be suppressed to disallow roll-up to find the rating count for the first level suppressed and thus potentially identify educators. This is why some levels have asterisks (*) in the same school or district.
- Records with 100% staff in one performance level are suppressed, as per state law. In such cases, only the total staff count record will be provided as part of the data file. Such is the case with Mountainside. The thinking is that the public would know the level of every single educator, be it ‘Highly Effective’, ‘Effective’, ‘Partially Effective’, and ‘Ineffective’.
In the instances where records were suppressed due to the first two rules, those combined counts would always be included in the totals.
With that background, data is provided below both on each school’s ranking of ‘Highly Effective’ teachers and the school district’s within the county and state.
In The District
The first table compares the schools within the Roselle Park School District (RPSD).
|Sherman Elementary School|
|Roselle Park High School|
|Ernest J. Finizio Jr. - Aldene School|
|Robert Gordon Elementary School|
|Roselle Park Middle School|
Asterisks (*) denote suppression, they do not signify zero or none. See suppression rules for more information.
The evaluation, according to the data, was of 170 teachers in the school district, this even though a tally of all school totals equals 169.
Reviewing each school, Sherman School had the highest percentage of ‘Highly Effective’ teachers at 64%, followed by Roselle Park High School (RPHS) at 63%. Roselle Park Middle School (RPMS) had the lowest ‘Highly Effective’ rating, under 13.3%. This percentage was arrived at using the suppression rule determining that RPMS had counts in more than one of the three remaining categories then verifying the count by cross-checking the column totals against the row totals.
It can also be deduced, by subtracting all the counts in the ‘Effective’ column from the total that Sherman School had ten (10) teachers that were rated at that level.
In The County
The next table has Roselle Park ranking 4th or 5th highest among Union County schools for ‘Highly Effective’ teachers.
|Scotch Plains-Fanwood Regional|
The variance in ranking is due to the 3rd suppression rule for Mountainside where the district received either 100% in ‘Highly Effective’ or 100% in some other category. If all of Mountainside’s teachers received ‘Highly Effective’, then it would be highest, if not it would be last.
Out of the 21 municipalities in Union County, RPSD ranked higher than 15 other districts (Scotch Plains and Fanwood share one school system).
The final table shows RPSD in comparison to other schools not confined by municipal boundaries in Union County as well as the county and state averages. In all instances with the following data, Roselle Park ranked higher than those schools as well as the county and state averages.
|Union County Vocational|
Taking the evaluations throughout the state, excluding suppressed districts (there were 38 of them in line with the 3rd suppression rule) Roselle Park ranked 138th; just at the top 25% – (25.4%) of all 544 ranked school districts.
This first such ranking system will surely have debate on both the pro and con of how analogous such evaluation is to education. Among questions that will be asked regarding the methodology is whether certain districts assessed their teachers at a stricter (or more lenient) measure than others, even though some elements were not objective.
Discussions resulting from these evaluations among districts, schools, educators, parents, and communities will add another dynamic to a growing list of new initiatives – from PARCC to Common Core – that time will determine whether models of teaching in Roselle Park and New Jersey will improve or become constrained.