‘Calculator’ helps N.J. teachers determine if they’re effective

Figuring out exactly how New Jersey’s public school teachers will be rated under the state’s new evaluation system has been a little vexing, so the state Department of Education has put out an online calculator for teachers to figure out how they might fare.

The new calculator goes a long way to simplifying how the various ratings – from “ineffective” to “highly effective” — will be determined for the teachers.

To be sure, the tool offers a range of interesting scenarios, depending on the teacher’s circumstances.

For teachers who will be gauged in part on state test scores, even good ratings from class observations may not save a teacher from at least a “partially effective” rating if their students haven’t shown above-average gains on the tests.

Yet for the vast majority of teachers who will not be gauged on test scores in the first years, the classroom observations will be almost the sole determinate. These teachers are still being required to set student performance goals based on other measures, but at 15 percent of the rating, the calculator shows how these goals’ impact is limited.

For example, even a teacher who does not meet any of those performance goals would still get an “effective” rating if he or she gets at least 3 out of a maximum of 4 points in the classroom-observation component.

The department said the calculator was only meant to help teachers test out different scenarios that will lead to their final grade, which is known as the “summative rating.” These final ratings will still be set by the districts and, ultimately, the state.

“Official summative ratings are calculated by an educator’s district/the Department, but this tool can help educators get a sense of how the various components of an evaluation can affect a summative score,” said a memo to districts last week from assistant education commissioner Peter Shulman, in unveiling the new tool.


NJ Spotlight, an independent online news service on issues critical to New Jersey, makes its in-depth reporting available to NewsWorks.

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