New Jersey is making good progress in implementing goals set as part of its federal Race to the Top plan but has had some challenges, according to a report on the first year of implementation in 2012 issued Friday.
But some state legislators are asking to postpone full implementation of new teacher-evaluation systems for another year while new curricula and tests linked to RTTT and national Common Core Standards are developed.
The report by the U.S. Department of Education said New Jersey already had begun some reform plans before getting the federal grant, which gave the state a head start on the process.
The state has received $37.8 million in federal RTTT Phase 3 funds.
The state Department of Education’s goals include closing the achievement gap between low-income, minority and nondisadvantaged students, improving college and career readiness, and improving college attendance statewide.
The report notes that the state lost some key RTTT personnel the first year and had delays in hiring other key managerial positions.
Those staffing issues led to delays in the state’s work on upgrading curricula and tests to align with state standards in social studies and science. Math and language arts model curricula were completed on time.
Accomplishments during the year included starting teacher and principal evaluation pilot programs, strengthening the charter school application review and renewal process, and launching a software system to house model curricula and assessments specifically for use in low-achieving schools.
New Jersey Department of Education spokesman Justin Barra said they are proud of the work that has been accomplished.
“While there is still much work to be done, we’re off to a strong start,” he said.
Some state legislators would like to slow down a bit.
State Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, D-Essex, and Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan Jr., D-Middlesex, both sponsors of the tenure reform law that included new teacher evaluations, are proposing a resolution to extend the current pilot program for another year. School districts still would be required to do the evaluations, but they would not affect a teacher’s job status until 2014-15.
“I think we do need to pause and take a breath,” Jasey said this week in a forum hosted by the New Jersey School Boards Association and the state PTA and reported on by NJ Spotlight.
The issue of linking teacher evaluations to student test results has gotten renewed attention nationally as new curricula and tests are developed.
Implementation and technical problems were reported this year in several states that used new online tests, leading to calls to slow the process if teachers’ jobs would be linked to the test results.
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