N.J. gets grant to evaluate teachers

The New Jersey Education Department announced a new $1.1 million grant program to encourage school districts to take part in a pilot program tying teacher evaluations to student performance.

The Excellent Educators for New Jersey grant funds will be awarded for the coming school year to districts and charter schools that will work with the department to development and implement new educator evaluation systems based on recommendations of the governor’s Task Force on Educator Effectiveness.

Those recommendations include teacher evaluation systems based on student learning and progress and assessing teacher practices using new national core curriculum standards.

“New Jersey educators deserve timely, meaningful, and actionable feedback about the work they do to help students learn,” acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf said in a statement Tuesday. “This pilot system offers a tremendous opportunity for us to collaborate with our local partners on the best way to support our educators as they prepare New Jersey’s students for college and careers.”

Teachers in the pilot district will be able to join or give feedback to district advisory committees, which will share their experiences with the department.

The New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, opposes heavy reliance on student performance on standardized tests in teacher evaluations. In part, union officials have said it will result in more education time on preparing students for the tests.

Applications for the program are due by July 28.