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AchieveNJ, the regulatory umbrella for teacher and principal evaluations in New Jersey, has undergone significant changes since its formation in 2013. Each year, guidance was clarified and refined with goals of greater value for educators. District leaders across the state worked tirelessly toward:
Principals haven’t experienced the same benefit, largely because their evaluation hasn’t received the same level of investment (Year 3 Report). However, for the last two years the New Jersey Department of Education has been working toward changing that.
Research indicates that principal quality is second only to teacher quality when it comes to impacting student learning within the school community.
The NJDOE received feedback that observing a single, discrete activity as the basis for measuring a principal’s practice, was an inadequate reflection of the work of a principal. It also didn’t promote adequate links to the student learning and educational leadership components AchieveNJ included in the principal’s evaluation. Building on this feedback, a group of Educational Leaders, along with NJPSA and NJASA, began to examine the instruments and guidance currently associated with principal evaluation.
The group ultimately created a new way to evaluate principal practice. The instrument is based on the 2015 Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL). The group also produced updated guidance for evaluating a principal, which can be used in conjunction with any Principal Practice Instrument. The PSEL is the first major update to standards for educational leaders since the 2008 ISLLC standards.
In 2016, during the initial pilot of this new evaluation strategy for principals, 10 New Jersey school districts signed up. By the end of the summer in 2017, 14 additional school districts had already joined in for phase two!
They began with training where they unpacked the standards individually and explored rubrics. Additionally, the administrative teams from participating districts reviewed the mechanics of the new observation process, looked at actual principal evidence and calibrated this evidence against the PSEL rubric.
By the end of the 2-day training session these districts were excited and ready for their year long journey with the new instrument. Districts are piloting the instrument over the 2017-18 School Year. The NJDOE will learn from the work of these teams with the goal of making the instrument and training available for optional adoption statewide in the 2018-19 school year.
These 14 districts were given permission to use this framework by adding it to the list of commissioner-approved evaluation instruments for use exclusively by the pilot districts.
OnCourse is happy to have participated in the most recent discussions regarding how the PSEL framework fits into evaluation systems and how to best configure an instrument so it accommodates the new guidance. We look forward to continuing our work with the NJDOE and the pilot districts.
If you would like to learn about how OnCourse Evaluate can meet your principal evaluation needs please contact OnCourse.