Educator Evaluation Guidance for School Year 2020-21
For educators and students alike, the 2020-2021 school year will be unlike any other and therefore, meaningful educator evaluations will be more important than ever before. As always, effective evaluation systems are designed to support teachers and school leaders in improving their practices and building upon their strengths. As districts review their evaluation systems, teachers and school leaders must engage in reflective conversations and work together to implement procedures that will continue to improve teaching and learning.
The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) has provided five key themes that districts should consider in the creation of effective educator evaluation systems. Each theme includes minimum regulatory requirements and additional recommendations to assist districts in utilizing evaluation systems through School Year (SY) 2020-21 and beyond. The NJDOE would like to thank the teachers, principals, district-level staff, and superintendents across the state who contributed to the following guidance.
All staff must receive the number of observations required by regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:10:4.1 and 5.1):
- Tenured teachers, Principals, Assistant Principals and Vice Principals must receive at least two observations.
- Nontenured teachers, Principals, Assistant Principals and Vice Principals must receive three observations.
Observations are defined as “a method of collecting data on the performance of a teaching staff member's assigned duties and responsibilities.” (N.J.A.C. 6A:10-1.2)
A. Traditional in-class observations:
Traditional in-class observations remain the required method for evaluating in-class, in-person instruction. This includes hybrid models in which teachers are teaching in-class, in-person with students.
B. The Portfolio Process:
If instruction is not occurring in-class or in-person, the portfolio process may be utilized for teachers. The collection of evidence should follow the protocols established last spring. See appendix for portfolio process guidance.
The NJDOE received positive feedback from across the state from both teachers and supervisors regarding their experience with portfolio observations during the spring of 2020. The NJDOE will continue to highlight best portfolio practices and will provide additional guidance as necessary.
Districts should make every effort to ensure that at least one observation is an in-class observation of in-person instruction within the 2020-21 school year. Districts are also strongly encouraged to take advantage of the local flexibility in the use of their observation instruments (i.e., type of scoring instruments, which indicators and domains will be observed, the amount of evidence required to be submitted, etc.) Districts can and should make adjustments to leverage the benefits of professional learning facets of the evaluation system, while removing inefficient procedures through the following measures:
- Focus your collective energy on simplifying and improving observations:
- Utilize District Evaluation Advisory Committee (DEACs) and School Improvement Panel (ScIPs) (see Theme Four) to identify these flexibilities, particularly in identifying the “power components” which lie in each observation instrument. Power components are those proven to be the most impactful on student achievement and should be the focus of observations.
- Examine observation procedures to ensure a transparent, efficient process:
- Develop observation schedules with the upcoming year’s uncertainty in mind.
- Stress to staff the importance of providing evidence of the observed domains in the evaluation process. This can and should be added to your district’s yearly training.
- Ensure evaluators are comfortable with how elements classified as “planning” and “professional responsibilities” are defined locally. These areas are critical in promoting the reflective side of evaluation systems.
- Consider the requirements and best practices that may be applicable to provisional status teachers, nontenured educators, and those on Corrective Action Plans (including extra observations, extra observers, assuring more frequent feedback, and face-to-face conversations). These requirements provide support to staff members in need of additional professional learning/development.
- Streamline Processes:
- Minimize paperwork or administrative burdens on staff whenever possible.
- Due to the absence of a state assessment last year, there will not be a median student growth percentile (mSGP) score included in the summative ratings of teachers, principals, vice principals, and assistant principals. (See Executive Order No. 175)
- During SY2020-21, the student achievement component of AchieveNJ will be satisfied by Student Growth Objectives (SGOs) for teachers. For principals, assistant principals, and vice principals, the student achievement component will be satisfied by administrator goals and the SGO average of teachers.
- Focus time and resources on the development of SGOs. Given disruptions to instruction as a result of COVID-19-related school closures, it may be more difficult to determine appropriate growth expectations this year and districts should use the SGO-related training materials and resources to assist in that decision-making process. Districts should utilize the February 15, 2021 deadline in any adjustments which may need to be made. The AchieveNJ webpage offers a wide variety of SGO-related training materials and resources.
Highlighting the five steps of the SGO process, please see the following recommendations and accompanying resources in completing SGOs:
Step One: Choose or develop a quality standards-aligned assessment(s).
- Consider using a portfolio of assessments to determine growth. Please review the SGO exemplars for various ways to develop SGOs.
Step Two: Determine student starting points.
- Use multiple measures to obtain baseline data for students. As always, a pre-test/post-test model is highly discouraged.
- See pages 15–17 of the SGO Guidebook for more information on using multiple measures to determine student readiness.
- The two measures below, coupled with one or two additional measures, could yield excellent data to determine student readiness and provide greater clarity this year:
- A diagnostic pre-assessment based on the standards students were expected to master in the prior grade level.
- A parent survey gauging student online learning last spring.
Step Three: Set ambitious, yet achievable SGOs.
- Determine student preparedness to help set growth targets that are fair and achievable.
- A mandatory “across the board” growth target for all teachers in a particular grade or all students in the same class is not a recommended practice.
- Setting targets should be a thoughtful, realistic process. The SGO Video Training Series provides a concise explanation of this critical practice.
Step Four: Monitor and adjust accordingly.
- The February 15, 2021 SGO deadline may be relaxed for adjustments to occur in certain circumstances; it is recommended that districts utilize the adjustment period, if necessary.
- The inclusion of a mid-year conference for educators would be an opportune time to incorporate adjustments.
Step Five: Review results and score.
All training procedures as required by regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:10) remain in effect.
Districts are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the local flexibility they have with respect to training procedures. In addition, stakeholder engagement through DEACs and ScIPs is always recommended.
- Districts should tweak annual evaluation training to highlight procedures and processes that will be impacted due to potential hybrid scheduling.
- Districts should use DEACs and ScIPs (see Theme Four below) to assist in making decisions regarding procedures.
- DEAC and ScIP committees should be leveraged in the development and delivery of staff training, as well as included in communication throughout the year.
- Districts should develop a plan for what co-observations may look like in the case of limited room capacity and movement across buildings.
School Improvement Panels (ScIP) are required to meet. (N.J.A.C. 6A:10-3.1)
Reestablish a District Evaluation Advisory Committee (DEAC):
- Utilize DEAC members to discuss and make recommendations on significant evaluation decisions.
- Empower teachers to assist in developing updated evaluation procedures which may require modifications.
Engage the School Improvement Panel (ScIP):
- Convene the ScIP as early as possible in the school year.
- Solicit ScIP feedback on any district level policy and/or procedural change(s). ScIPs are the body through which school level implementation should occur.
- Leverage the ScIP to disseminate information between administration and teachers.
- ScIP Guidance outlines the requirements for this committee and provides examples from educators to inform its activities.
All regulations concerning Professional Development Plans (N.J.A.C. 6A:9-15) and Corrective Action Plans (N.J.A.C. 6A:10-2.5) remain in place.
- Districts should ensure that educators have a clear and concrete understanding of how they might improve during the school year. See the Department’s guidance on individual professional development planning for more information.
- In developing Professional Development Plans or Corrective Action Plans, consider school or districtwide goals that support the growth of all educators and address issues related to the impact of COVID-19 school closures.
- See the NJDOE’s professional development (PD) plan guidance for individual PD and/or Corrective Action Plan (CAP) planning.
- Consider the professional learning teachers may need to support in-person, hybrid, and/or remote learning.
- District leaders should ensure that educators on a CAP are supported by their supervisors in setting clear goals and expectations to improve their practice.
- The portfolio process replaces the traditional twenty-minute single classroom observation with an equivalent method.
- This process allows educators to showcase their professional practice with a set of artifacts, stretched out over a window of time (defined as a period of two to three weeks up to two months).
- Observation Window Specifics:
- Windows in which evidence will be collected should be mutually agreed upon by the educator and his or her supervisor.
- A window cannot open until after the previous observation window has closed.
- If the portfolio observation includes a preconference, this must occur within seven working days prior to opening the observation window.
- All post conferences must occur within 15 working days of the close of the observation window.
- Portfolio Evidence Specifics:
- Educators gather artifacts of their work completed during the observation window which are aligned to the observation instrument’s domains and indicators. This is not meant to be a large portfolio.
- Both the supervisor and teacher must agree on the type of learning that will be included in the portfolio. Included should be evidence of direct observation of synchronous OR the indirect observation of asynchronous online learning:
- Synchronous remote learning: The observer watches a class being conducted online. This is a direct observation.
- Asynchronous remote learning: The observer is provided evidence from a classroom lesson using asynchronous methods (ex: prerecorded lessons, class blogs, student discussion boards, student chat spaces, etc.). This is an indirect observation.
- Other evidence should focus on critical domains with at least one piece per domain observed and no more than four to five per domain observed.
- Evidence collected must be relevant to the assigned duties and responsibilities associated with teaching in a remote setting.
- There should be enough evidence presented to facilitate a conversation regarding the educator’s growth during the specified window.
- Other Important Information:
- All conferences can be conducted via teleconferencing.
- Prior to beginning these observations, it is recommended that you consult your district’s DEAC or other stakeholder committee to discuss the New Jersey Department of Education’s (NJDOE) recommendations and the district’s procedures.
- All practice instruments score evaluations differently and districts have local flexibility in the weighting and scoring.
- Districts should consider the approach currently in place to ensure evaluation procedures will result in a fair and equitable score under the amended circumstances.