Charlotte Danielson, the doyenne of teacher evaluations, says that when schools use her highly-regarded rubric to gauge teacher effectiveness, the label of Highly Effective is “a place you visit” while the label of Effective “is where most teachers live.”
Not in New Jersey. Here, one in three teachers (33.8%) reside in Highly Effective Land, at least according to the just-released Educator Evaluation Implementation Report, the second iteration since the passage of the state’s 2012 teacher tenure reform law. In fact, 98.6 percent of teacher received ratings of Effective or Highly Effective, a 1.6 percent increase from last year.
That’s a feature, not a bug. Just like in New York City, where fewer than 1% of teachers earned ineffective ratings because evaluations are almost entirely subjective and student outcomes play a minimal role, just like in Connecticut where Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher called the state’s current teacher evaluation system “little more than cotton candy in a rainstorm,” NJ’s highly-vaunted teacher evaluation reform system, as currently implemented, is just so much fluff. The bipartisan legislation promised realistic differentiation of teacher quality in contrast to the former practice where seventeen teachers among a cadre of over 100,000 were fired for incompetence over the course of a decade. But it seems we’re right back where we started.