Red Bank Leads Evolving Evaluation Program
Red Bank is in the second year of a state-sponsored teacher evaluation program.
To a large degree, Red Bank is ahead of the curve.
When the school district signed up to play the role of test subject in the New Jersey Department of Education’s teacher evaluation program last school year, it did so with the knowledge that there would be changes, expected and otherwise, along with the challenge of trying to quantify an educator’s teaching abilities beyond her students’ state test score results.
In its second year of the teacher evaluation program, however, Red Bank finds itself in a welcome position. The district has experience and, in addition to being able to adapt to mandated changes, is helping shape an evaluation program that will likely be introduced statewide next school year.
“Because of the pilot structure, changes will be made. We will continue the process, and we’ll continue refining it,” District Superintendent Laura Morana said following Tuesday evening’s board meeting. “The State Department of Education wants to learn from the way we’re handling it this year.”
Red Bank was one of just 11 school districts throughout the state to participate in the first year of the evaluation program. This upcoming school year 20 more districts are involved and many are looking to districts like Red Bank’s to help guide them through the process. Already the district has fielded requests from neighboring districts looking for some clue on how to get started.
But for all its experience, Red Bank, along with the other participating districts, has had to adapt to changes in the process.
Last year Red Bank received roughly $57,000 to run the program. That’s dropped to $11,520 for one.
When the program began last year it called for tenured teachers to receive two evaluations and non-tenured teachers to receive three evaluations during the school year. That schedule has changed. New state guidelines call for additional evaluations of all teachers and also make greater demands of teachers in core subjects and non-core subjects.
Non-tenured teachers in core subjects – core subjects are language arts, mathematics, science and social studies – are subject to five evaluations and tenured core teachers four. Teachers of non-core subjects, which comprise every other teaching subject, are evaluated three times, for non-tenured teachers, and just twice for tenure teachers. Evaluations include formal observations and unannounced classroom drop-ins, among others.
A concern last year was that the evaluation process put significant strain on the administration. Though there are more evaluations, the entire process has been simplified, Morana said, and Red Bank now has dedicated administrators in both the primary and middle school who will oversee the process.
Morana said part of the challenge of the new evaluation plan is the difference in observations between core and non-core teachers. A goal of the district this year, she said, is to ensure that all teachers, regardless of how they’re defined by the state, are evaluated thoroughly and fairly.