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The Bridge - A monthly newsletter for educators from the New Jersey Department of Education

» Educator Spotlight » The Bridge, 04/13

Achieve NJ:
Teach. Lead. Grow.

 In schools, teachers and leaders have the greatest influence on student learning. Since 2010, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) has been working to improve educator evaluation and supports for improving educator practice. These efforts have included a two-year pilot that has involved more than 15,000 teachers and principals. Building on this work, New Jersey's historic 2012 TEACHNJ Act — unanimously approved by the state Legislature and signed into law by Governor Christie — mandates many requirements for the new statewide educator evaluation system and links tenure decisions to evaluation ratings. On March 6, 2013, the NJDOE proposed regulations outlining specific evaluation policies for 2013–14 — the first year of full statewide implementation of this new system, AchieveNJ.
AchieveNJ Guiding Principles

Our new AchieveNJ evaluation and support system is structured around several guiding principles:

  1. Educator effectiveness can and should be measured to ensure our students have the best teachers in the classroom. A three-year study by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently affirmed the impact of evaluations and showed that huge variations exist between the most and least effective teachers — in some cases, up to an 11-month difference in student learning.

  2. Evaluations should always be based on multiple measures that include both learning outcomes and effective practice. No teacher or principal should ever be assessed based on test scores alone, much less a single test. Therefore, AchieveNJ includes a combination of student growth on objective measures and observations of a teacher's classroom practices and a principal's leadership practices conducted by appropriately trained observers.

  3. Timely feedback and high-quality professional development, tied to evaluations, are essential to help educators improve. Evaluations provide educators with more opportunities to engage in high-quality professional conversations and nuanced data that can be used to tailor professional development to staff needs. Evaluations that do not contribute to these types of growth and development offer limited value.

  4. Evaluation and support systems should be developed with significant input from educators. We have been working every step of the way over the past two years with those most affected: teachers and principals.

  5. Tenure and other forms of recognition should be based on effectiveness. As codified in the new tenure law passed in 2012, educators should be recognized and rewarded based on the outcome of meaningful evaluations rather than simply time served.

Additional Resources and Contact Information

The AchieveNJ website includes substantial resources about the new evaluation system, including a comprehensive presentation; overviews for teachers, principals, and FAQs. We are continuing to add new resources and appreciate your feedback. Please contact the Office of Evaluation directly at 609-777-3788 or