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    EE4NJ
     

    EE4NJ Pilot Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


     
    Q: Why do we need to change teacher evaluation practices in New Jersey?
    A: Effective educators are the most important in-school factor for student success, but we currently lack a robust statewide evaluation system that adequately measures effectiveness. Teachers need timely, meaningful feedback to improve their practice, and students deserve teachers who are highly effective and continuously improve. A high-quality evaluation system will enable districts to identify each educator’s professional development needs and support his/her growth. Differentiating teachers based on their performance rather than treating them as interchangeable widgets is fair to educators and shows respect for their profession. A high-quality evaluation system will also help districts and schools improve their personnel decisions. By linking tenure decisions, RIFs, and compensation levels to educator effectiveness, rather than to seniority and advanced degrees, school systems will be able to attract and retain more effective teachers and drive significant improvements in student learning. The New Jersey Educator Effectiveness Task Force Report, released in March 2011, outlines several steps for implementing an improved evaluation system.
     
    Q: Are other states and districts changing teacher evaluation practices?
    A: Yes, many. The federal government’s educational reform agenda has focused on supporting teachers as professionals in the classroom while also holding them accountable for student learning. Through a number of grant programs, the federal government has invested in states’ development of innovative strategies that help teachers improve student outcomes. Across the country, states are changing laws to support student performance-focused evaluation systems. At both the state and district levels, pilot programs are testing new systems and implementing lessons learned. The NJDOE is tracking this work closely and examining best practices to help inform our system as well.
     
    Q: Why is the NJDOE conducting a pilot program rather than implementing new evaluations in all districts?
    A: The purpose of the EE4NJ pilot program is to identify districts willing to implement the Task Force recommendations and provide feedback to NJDOE so that adjustments can be made. We are doing this to learn about successes and challenges on a small scale first in order to later implement an improved system framework statewide. We want to actively engage district educators and stakeholders in shaping the development and implementation of the evaluation system so we can learn from those who will be directly affected by it. We recognize that changing the state’s long-held educator evaluation practices will require a great deal of work and include growing pains. But doing so is in the best interest of students and families, and we are committed to learning lessons from districts, schools, and educators along the way so that we can design the best system possible.
     
    Q: How will this pilot benefit students?
    A: More than two decades of research findings show that student achievement is strongly linked to teacher effectiveness; highly skilled teachers produce better student results. In order to improve student performance, we must recruit the best and brightest to the profession, prepare and reward outstanding educators, support them in honing their practice, and give them incentives to teach in schools with struggling populations. By implementing rigorous, transparent, and trustworthy teacher evaluations in pilot districts, we aim to improve teacher effectiveness and thus student outcomes.
     
    Q: How will this pilot benefit educators?
    A: New Jersey, like the vast majority of other states, does not have an evaluation system that adequately measures teacher effectiveness, and the state only gives districts vague guidance. It’s time we treat teachers like the professionals they are by taking special care to identify and recognize greatness in the classroom and spending more energy developing and supporting those needing help. To accomplish this, we need fair, credible, and rigorous evaluations to differentiate teacher performance. Educators in pilot districts will help shape this new system, providing vital feedback during development and implementation.
     
    Q: Why does this pilot include teacher but not principal evaluations when the task force report calls for both?
    A: The report calls for both, and we are working on both. However, we have much to learn from the pilot process and believe we are best served by taking it one step at a time. Principals in teacher evaluation pilot districts will play an active role in providing feedback for the new system. This will help them better understand and inform teacher evaluations, the results of which will form a large part of principal evaluations in the future. Concurrently with this pilot year, the NJDOE will develop the new principal evaluation system and will call upon pilot districts to advise us on those plans as well. This will allow the state to focus on each major aspect of the system in turn while ensuring that one process informs the other.
     
    Q: Why is the pilot only one year long, when some other states and districts have taken several years to develop and implement evaluation systems?
    A: We have a sense of urgency about this matter. Our current evaluation systems, unfortunately, do not adequately meet the needs of students or educators. They must be changed. Moreover, a robust and meaningful evaluation system is the core of all other educator policies and practices. Without this critical element in place, we will not be able to inform and influence any other link in the chain, including teacher preparation, certification, professional development, compensation, and tenure. We want to launch pilots quickly, learn from our successes and challenges, and then develop a strong statewide system. We believe this is good for teachers, principals, and families
     
    Q: How will the pilot be funded?
    A: To help pilot districts implement a strong evaluation system, the New Jersey Department of Education will award up to a total of $1,160,000 in EE4NJ grants to pilots. This is a major investment in this critical work and demonstrates NJDOE’s commitment to working with districts and schools as partners. LEAs will secure the services of an outside vendor to provide training on a teacher practice framework that meets the requirements set forth in the Notice of Grant Opportunity. Funding levels were derived based on estimated costs for all required components of the EE4NJ program. Total final costs may be higher or lower than the grant amounts provided depending on the provider and services chosen by the district to deliver the training and other program elements.
     
    Q: Who is participating in the pilot?
    A: The following ten districts were selected to participate in the pilot: Alexandria Township (Hunterdon); Bergenfield (Bergen), Elizabeth (Union), Monroe Township (Middlesex), Ocean City (Cape May), Pemberton Township (Burlington), Red Bank (Monmouth), Secaucus (Hudson), West Deptford Township (Gloucester), and Woodstown-Pilesgrove Regional (Salem).
    In addition, all schools currently receiving School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding will participate in the pilot. These include: Camden High School, Cramer College Preparatory Lab School, and U.S. Wiggins College Preparatory Lab School (Camden); Cicely Tyson High School (East Orange), Voc West Caldwell Campus (Essex); Fred Martin School of Performing Arts, Lincoln High School, and Snyder High (Jersey City), Lakewood High School (Lakewood); Barringer High School, Brick Avon Academy, Central High, Dayton Street, Malcolm X Shabazz High School, Newark Vocational High School, and West Side High School (Newark); Dr. Frank Napier School of Technology, and Number 10 (Paterson); Boro Abraham Clark High School (Roselle).
     
    Finally, Newark will also be participating in the pilot, through a separate grant.
     
    Q: How were districts selected for the pilot?
    A: The DOE followed evaluation procedures determined by state grants protocol. As according to this protocol, each application was evaluated and rated by a panel of three readers: one reader from within the NJDOE, and two readers external to the NJDOE with deep knowledge in the content area. We utilized experienced department staff with knowledge of teaching and learning as well as the grants process. We also included experienced school district practitioners, higher education staff working in teacher preparation, and individuals with extensive understanding of teacher effectiveness issues. All readers certified that no conflict of interest exists that would create an undue advantage or disadvantage for any applicant in the application evaluation and scoring process.
     
    Applications were evaluated based on the quality, comprehensiveness, completeness, accuracy, and appropriateness of response to the guidelines and requirements of the governing NGO. The NJDOE reserves the right to withdraw from consideration any application that does not include each and every component to be evaluated and scored in the evaluation process. Applicants may request information about their evaluation scores by writing to the NJDOE Application Control Center.
     
    Grant application readers used the selection criteria listed below, as well as the application construction guidelines, as the basis for their evaluations:
    • The project plan is comprehensive and reasonable, addresses the identified local conditions and/or needs, and will contribute to the achievement of the intended benefits of the grant program.
    • The project goals and objectives are properly constructed and logically sequenced to substantiate the project plan, and are supported by specific and measurable indicators that will allow for objective assessment of progress toward achievement of the goals and objectives.
    • The project activities represent a well-defined and logically sequenced series of steps which will result in the achievement of each goal and corresponding objective(s).
    • The project budget is integrated with the comprehensive project plan, and proposed expenditures are necessary and reasonable for the effective implementation of the project activities.
    • The agency’s commitment to the project is well-documented, and the agency possesses the requisite organizational capacity and authority, including necessary resources and relevant experience, to support successful implementation.
    In order to include the widest possible distribution, the New Jersey Department of Education made awards to the highest ranking application in each District Factor Group, and in each region (north, central, south). From the remaining applications, awards were made based on total score based on available funds. To be considered eligible, an application must have scored at least 65 points out of 100.
     
    Q: How are School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools and districts involved with the pilot?
    A: The SIG requires that all participating districts implement teacher and leader evaluation systems in 2011. Therefore, SIG schools will participate in the pilot using SIG funds, in addition to those selected to receive EE4NJ grant funds.
     
    Q: How will the pilot work?
    A: Pilot districts will receive grants from the NJDOE to implement the new state requirements for a robust teacher evaluation system during the 2011-2012 school year. In accordance with the New Jersey Educator Effectiveness Task Force recommendations, these requirements include the following:
    • Annual teacher evaluations based on standards of effective teacher practices and clear expectations;
    • Multiple measures of teacher practice and student performance, with student academic progress or growth as a key measure;
    • A summative rating that combines the scores of all the measures of teaching practice and student achievement;
    • Four summative rating categories that clearly differentiate levels of performance; and
    • A link from the evaluation to providing professional development opportunities that meet the needs of educators at all levels of practice.
    Districts will ensure comprehensive training of all educators involved with the new evaluation system and will provide regular feedback to the NJDOE on pilot progress. Districts will need to follow specific implementation requirements, but they will also be given the flexibility to develop some elements of their own within the parameters provided.
     
    Q: What benefits will pilot districts receive from participating?
    A: Successful applicants will benefit in a number of ways. They will receive substantial financial support to provide high-quality training to their educators. The pilot offers districts an opportunity to engage educators and other stakeholders in shaping the development and implementation of a new evaluation system. Participation also gives districts the chance to familiarize themselves with the contours of the proposed system and contribute to its improvement in advance of statewide implementation. It is expected that the focus on teaching and student learning will support a culture of collaboration and sharing, continuous improvement, and transparency.
     
    Q: How will pilot districts interact with the NJDOE throughout the program?
    A: Participating districts will convene a district-level stakeholder advisory committee to oversee and guide the implementation of the evaluation system during the pilot period. Committee membership must include representation from the following groups: teachers from each school level (e.g., elementary, middle, high school), central office administrators overseeing the teacher evaluation process, administrators conducting evaluations, and the local school board. In addition, the committee must include a data coordinator who will be responsible for managing the student data components of the evaluation system. At the discretion of the superintendent, membership may also be extended to representatives of other groups, such as counselors, child study team members, instructional coaches, and new teacher mentors. One member of the advisory committee must be identified as the pilot program liaison with the NJDOE. In addition to ongoing communication and support from the department, NJDOE will convene all pilot district liaisons a minimum of four times throughout the course of the pilot period to discuss implementation, share successes, obstacles, and resources and problem-solve.
     
    Q: What role will educators have in the process?
    A: Educators from pilot districts will be fully engaged in the program. Teachers and administrators will be trained on the new framework. They will have the opportunity to join or provide feedback to the district advisory committee, which will regularly inform the NJDOE on pilot progress, challenges, and opportunities for improvement. They will be able to help shape the new evaluation system and will gain a year of experience with the framework before it is implemented state-wide.
     
    Q: What is the structure of the state-level stakeholder advisory committee? How often will they meet, and will meetings be open to the public?
    A: We will create a statewide Evaluation Pilot Advisory Committee (EPAC) comprised of stakeholders to collaborate with and advise NJDOE throughout implementation of the EE4NJ pilot program. Their role will be to engage in outreach to stakeholders and constituencies and to provide feedback about issues and challenges to inform statewide implementation of an educator effectiveness evaluation system. The EPAC will meet on a monthly basis, beginning in September. Because EPAC members will be privy to, and providing guidance on, a variety of challenges and issues that pilots will be facing in implementation, their deliberations will not be open to the public. It is our expectation that many of the issues around implementation will be worked out and course corrections made during the pilot year in preparation for statewide rollout.
     
    In addition to the statewide EPAC, each pilot district will form its own advisory committee and appoint one member of this committee to serve as a liaison to the statewide committee. Educators in pilot districts will be able to present their feedback, questions, and concerns to the district-level advisory committee, which will in turn present them to the state EPAC.
     
    Q: How can districts not participating in the pilot get access to resources/information about program developments?
    A: We have established a website for the EE4NJ program, where districts can find information about the evaluation system, including detailed specifications for the teacher practice framework that will count for 50% of every educator’s evaluation, as well as other measures to be used in evaluations. New information will be posted on a regular basis as new measures are reviewed and approved. Guidance documents and resources will also be available.
     
    Q: What standards will be used as the foundation of the teacher practice evaluation framework?
    A: The newly revised 2011 InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards will be used as the basis for observing and evaluating teaching practices in the pilot evaluation program. These standards define the performances, essential knowledge, and critical dispositions of effective teaching. Please note that these standards are not the same as the national Common Core State Standards, which deal with curriculum. The 2011 InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards can be accessed at: http://www.ccsso.org/resources/programs/interstate_teacher_assessment_consortium_(intasc).html
     
    Q: Who will be evaluated in the pilots?
    A: Schools that will be participating in the pilot must include all teachers of all subjects and grades who are providing instruction to students in the evaluations.
     
    Q: What components will comprise teacher evaluations?
    A: Teacher evaluations will comprise equal parts teacher practice (inputs) and direct measures of student achievement (outputs). Within each of those components, multiple measures will be used.
     
    Task Force Recommended Framework for the New Teacher Evaluation System
    Framework
     
    Q: What are schoolwide performance measures and how will they be used?
    A: The Educator Effectiveness Evaluation Task Force recommended that a schoolwide performance measure comprise 10% of the student achievement portion of the teacher evaluation. This measure could be a schoolwide aggregation of all students’ growth on state assessments. Alternatively, teachers could share credit for meeting a school-specific goal. A school-specific goal would reflect an area of need identified by the school or district and approved for use by both the Commissioner and district superintendent.
     
    Q: How much weight do standardized test scores get in the evaluations?
    A: Standardized test scores are not available for every subject or grade. For those that exist (Math and English Language Arts teachers of grades 4-8), Student Growth Percentages (SGPs), which require pre- and post-assessments, will be used. The SGPs should account for 35%-45% of evaluations. The NJDOE will work with pilot districts to determine how student achievement will be measured in non-tested subjects and grades.
     
    Q: What measures of teacher practice will be required?
    A: The Educator Effectiveness Task Force recommended that all districts use a high-quality state-approved teacher practice evaluation framework and at least one additional state-approved tool. The teacher practice evaluation framework should account for 50%-95% of this component, and the additional measure, such as student surveys and teacher portfolios, should comprise at least 5% of the teacher practice component, but not more than 50%.
     
    Q: What kind of training support will pilot district educators receive on the new system?
    A: The following training activities will be mandated for all evaluators and observers--a minimum of three days of training for evaluators (e.g., principals, vice-principals, supervisors, administrative department heads, as specified in code) and others who will use the teacher practice framework to evaluate teachers on either a formal or informal basis. The training must incorporate:
    • The teaching practice evaluation domains/components of effective teacher practice that tie to the InTASC standards;
    • The use of effective evaluation strategies and requirements;
    • Sufficient practice for fidelity of implementation; and
    • An authorization or certification that indicates the evaluator has met the training requirements.
    In addition, a process must be in place to monitor and remediate evaluator accuracy, inter-rater reliability, and score inflation during the pilot year. Participating LEAs must provide ongoing support, including online or face-to-face coaching for all evaluators, across the school year to assist them in implementing the teacher practice evaluation framework with fidelity.
     
    During the pilot year, all LEAs will be expected to use the district’s selected teacher practice evaluation framework to review every teacher, using the following procedures:
    • For non-tenured teachers, conduct a minimum of three formal observations (i.e., with pre-and post-conference input and feedback) for one instructional period or a minimum of 40 minutes;
    • For tenured teachers, conduct a minimum of two formal observations (i.e, with pre- and post-conference input and feedback) for one instructional period or a minimum of 40 minutes;
    • Conduct a minimum of two informal observations (i.e, without pre- and post-conferences) with feedback;
    • Prepare one summative evaluation that results in a mutually-developed teacher professional development plan;
    • At least once per year, conduct teacher self-assessments of their own practice and compare with the evaluators’ assessments to calibrate teachers’ personal vision of effective practice;
    • Promote an environment for supportive and accurate feedback on teacher practice; and
    • Provide teachers with professional learning experiences to support improvement in teacher practice.
    Evaluators will be expected to provide follow-up support as teachers develop their understanding of the teacher practice evaluation framework and its expectations. They must provide a supportive, positive culture in which evaluation serves to improve teacher practices and student achievement.
     
    Q: How will formal and informal observations be factored in the new evaluation system?
    A: A minimum of two (2) formal observations for tenured teachers and three (3) formal observations for untenured teachers will count in the teacher’s evaluation. A formal observation must include a pre- and post-observation conference and the results of the observation must be provided to the teacher in a written observation report that includes recommendations and commendations. A copy of the observation report must be signed and placed in the teacher’s file.
     
    A minimum of two (2) informal observations for all teachers must also be conducted annually. These informal observations will not count in the teacher’s evaluation, nor be folded in with formal observations. They are purely formative in nature. Informal observations are often short visits to the classroom for the purpose of providing the teacher with feedback that will assist him/her with instruction. Informal observations may be performed by certified evaluators, or by instructional staff who serve as coaches, mentors, or teacher leaders who have been trained to provide feedback to their peers in the observation protocol.
     
    Q: Who will evaluate teachers?
    A: Formal observations that feed into the summative score for teacher evaluations must be conducted by appropriately credentialed supervisors (principals, assistant principals, etc.). In addition, formative observations can be conducted by non-certified individuals designated by the principal (other teachers, coaches, mentors, etc.) to provide more feedback to teachers. Formative observations will not be factored into the formal evaluation.
     
    Q: Who are the “non-evaluators” who may participate in teacher training?
    A: All those who support teachers within and outside the district, such as coaches, mentors, network turnaround officers, etc., may participate in teacher training. Anyone who conducts informal observations must be trained to provide feedback to his/her peers in the observation protocol.
     
    Q: Will evaluation providers assist in identifying the types of professional development a teacher needs based on evidence collected?
    A: It depends on the framework that the provider used. We hope that there will be a team approach to professional learning, whereby professional learning communities provide support where it is needed. Although outside expertise and support may be needed at times, the emphasis is not on remediation of a teacher, but provision of support within the district or learning community.
     
    Q: Will parents and students have any input into teacher evaluations?
    A: This is an option if districts choose to do so and have their process approved by the NJDOE. In addition, pilot districts are encouraged to include parents and students on their district-level Evaluation Pilot Advisory Committee (EPAC) to help inform the development of the new evaluation system.
     
    Q: When will teachers in the pilot districts get the results of their first evaluation?
    A: New Jersey law requires that teachers be evaluated before April 30 each year.
     
    Q: How will the results of the pilot evaluation system be used?
    A: The state is not yet requiring districts to link evaluation results to personnel decisions. It is left to participating districts to determine how they will use pilot evaluation results. It is the goal of the NJDOE to ultimately have strong educator evaluations inform a wide array of decisions, from preparation and certification to tenure and compensation. These priorities can be seen in the reform legislation proposed by the administration. The pilot year presents the state and districts an excellent opportunity to collaborate on a rigorous, trustworthy, transparent system before evaluations are tied to consequences through law or regulation.
     
    Q: How will evaluation results be tied to professional development and professional learning communities?
    A: As a condition for pilot participation, districts have agreed to ensure that evaluation results (including observations) will be linked to professional development opportunities. This will happen in two ways:
     
    (1) School and District Level Professional Development Planning (collective responsibility):
    Evaluation results will play a key role in required district and school professional learning plans. The planning process includes a needs assessment based on a variety of data points reflecting both student achievement results and teacher development needs. For the pilot districts, these data will be collected through the required performance management systems. New Jersey’s school and district professional development planning process emphasizes the establishment of professional learning communities as a key, research-based vehicle for teacher growth and collective capacity building, through such processes as learning teams, peer observation and coaching, and shared problem-solving.
     
    (2) Individual Professional Development Plans (individual responsibility):
    Observation protocols include a teacher-evaluator feedback and conferencing component, so this is the first opportunity to identify areas of need and target improvement strategies. Each teacher is required to have an individual professional development plan. The principal or supervisor will use the evaluation results in collaboration with the teacher to create this plan. The plan will include choices for professional learning to address areas for improvement and growth. The performance management system will compile data from teacher evaluation measures to inform the planning process.
     
    Q: Will teacher evaluations be subject to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA)?
    A: No. Personnel files are generally exempt from OPRA except for name, title, position, salary, payroll record, length of service, date of separation and reason, and amount/type of pension received. Evaluation records are included in this exemption, so they will not be made available for public access.
     
    Q: What is the status of legislation to change teacher tenure rules and other teacher practice?
    A: The administration has proposed a comprehensive reform package that is being considered by the New Jersey legislature. A number of related bills have also been introduced. In many respects, these proposals reflect the recommendations of the task force report. The NJDOE is also considering regulations that would codify the recommendations.
     
    Q: How will the new Common Core curriculum standards impact this pilot program?
    A: The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects were adopted by the New Jersey State Board of Education on June 16, 2010. Full implementation of curriculum aligned to these standards is required over the next two to three years according to the following schedule:
    • Math K-2: September 2011
    • Math 3-5 and High School: September 2012
    • Math 6-8: September 2013
    • English Language Arts K-12: September 2012
    Assessments built on the Common Core State Standards for these content areas, currently being developed by the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), are expected to be operational during the 2014-15 school year. Since the EE4NJ pilot will run during the 2011-2012 school year, it will not include any new assessments for the Common Core as part of teacher evaluations. In the future, when the Common Core State Standards and PARCC assessments are fully implemented and the educator evaluation system rolls out state-wide, there will be alignment between these systems.
     
    Q: How will student achievement measures be integrated into the evaluations of pre-school and kindergarten classrooms?
    A: Because of the variable rate of learning and development of young children and the current paucity of reliable measures of achievement for these students, NJDOE is looking to work with districts over the pilot year to develop possible solutions. Though the Department remains committed to having all educator evaluations include measures of student learning, we realize that the measurement of young children’s learning poses unique challenges. We hope that state-district collaboration will lead to the development of a range of valid and reliable options. In the short-term, it may be advisable to place a greater emphasis on classroom practices that research indicates are strongly associated with learning outcomes in high-quality programs. Guidance is currently being developed for evaluating pre-school and kindergarten teachers, and will be released in August 2011.
     
    Q: What other states/districts is New Jersey considering for models and examples?
    A: The NJDOE has reviewed many other state models, and is considering elements of each that make the most sense for New Jersey. Some of these models include those from Colorado (Harrison/Denver); Delaware; the District of Columbia; Hillsborough, FL; and Tennessee. We will continue to study new developments from across the country and incorporate lessons learned into our pilot program.
     
    Q: What is the full timeline for state-wide roll-out for teacher and principal evaluations?
    A: The NJDOE intends to roll out a new statewide framework for all districts in the 2012-13 school year.
     
    Note: answers adapted from MCAS Student Growth Percentiles: Interpretive Guide, March 2011, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
     
    Q: What is a growth model?
    A: For K-12 education, a “growth model” is a method of measuring individual student progress on statewide assessments by tracking the scores of the same students from one year to the next. Traditional student assessment reports show student achievement on the given assessment, whereas growth reports show how much change or “growth” there has been in achievement from year to year.
     
    Q: What questions can a growth model help answer?
    A: The growth model allows districts and schools to more easily identify promising, or potentially struggling, programs and practices—and therefore to look deeper into what may or may not be working. A growth model can help answer such questions as:
    • How much academic progress did an individual or group of students make in one or more years?
    • How does an individual student’s growth compare to that of students with similar prior test scores?
    • Is a student’s, school’s, or district’s growth higher than, or lower than, or similar to typical growth?
    • Which schools or districts demonstrate better than (or less than) typical growth for their students as compared to schools or districts with similar overall achievement?
    Q: Why did New Jersey develop a growth model to measure student progress?
    A: New Jersey developed a growth model to help answer the question, "How much academic progress did a student or group of students make in one year, as measured by NJ ASK, in relation to their academic peers?" This will help districts and schools to examine why results differ for certain groups of students and support discovery of which approaches are working best to help more students achieve.
     
    Q: How does New Jersey measure student growth?
    A: New Jersey measures growth for an individual student by comparing the change in his or her NJ ASK achievement from one year to the next to that of all other students in the state who had similar historical results (the student’s "academic peers"). This change in achievement is reported as a student growth percentile (abbreviated SGP) and indicates how high or low that student’s growth was as compared to that of his/her academic peers. For a school or district, the growth percentiles for all students are aggregated to create a median SGP for the school or district. The median SGP is a representation of “typical” growth for students in the school or district.
     
    Q: What does the median student growth percentile at a school represent?
    A: The median student growth percentile is the midpoint of student growth percentiles in the school. Half of the students had student growth percentiles higher than the median; half had lower. This is a good way of describing the typical growth of students in the school. It is not appropriate to use the average ("mean") when comparing percentiles.
     
    Q: Can students who perform at the top range of the Advanced level show growth?
    A: Yes. Unlike other methodologies, the student growth percentile methodology does not use scale score as part of the ‘math’ in determining growth. Thus, it is possible for a student who scores a perfect or nearly perfect scale score in the first year and a perfect or nearly perfect scale score in the second year to still demonstrate growth relative to other students who also have a history of perfect or nearly perfect scores.
     
    Q: For which grades and subjects will New Jersey report student growth percentiles?
    A: New Jersey will report student growth percentiles for Mathematics and English Language Arts for grades 4-8.
     
    Q: What additional information will the Department provide to teachers, administrators, and other education stakeholders on how growth data is calculated and how to use it effectively? Where can I find this information?
    A: The New Jersey DOE will be hosting growth webex trainings during the 2011-2012 school year. Announcements will be sent via county office broadcasts and as emails to NJ SMART points of contact.
     
    Q. Does the NGO require that the bid for a vendor to provide services for the evaluation be awarded prior to the application date?
    A: No. Awarding the bid is not required prior to the July 28 application deadline. However, a vendor must be selected and the DOE informed within 5 days of the award. Award notifications are expected in mid- to late August.
     
    Q. What is the difference between a sealed bid and a competitive contracting bid? Which is more expeditious? What are the rules that determine which can be used?
    A. Sealed bids or “IFBs” (Invitations for Bids) are the typical bidding situations that most are familiar with. The sealed bid award is based solely on the “Lowest Responsive/Responsible bidder.” A competitive contract is described at N.J.S.A.18A:18A-4.1 et seq. It is also referred to as “RFP” (Request for Proposal). A sealed bid is awarded on the basis of price alone; a competitive bid is awarded on the basis of price and other factors. In all instances, applicants should consult with their Business Administrator for guidance. If the BA needs guidance, they should contact their county office of education and consult with the County School Business Administrator.
     
    Q. What is the quickest way to conduct the bidding process?
    A. Sealed bids are the quickest method. In this process, the district submits specifications and accepts the bids in a minimum of 10 days after the advertisement appears in the newspaper. Sealed bids are awarded on the basis of price alone (N.J.S.A.18A:18A-4.5). Districts should confer with their Business Administrator on the appropriate bidding process. If the BA needs guidance, he/she should contact their county office of education and consult with the County School Business Administrator.
     
    Q. What statute or regulations provide authority for competitive bidding?
    A. According to the Local Finance Notice (LFN 2010-03) “Guidance on Local Government and Board of Education Procurement” in the development and implementation of a competitive contracting process for “school and district improvement services,” districts must comply with the statutory (N.J.S.A.18A:18A-4.1 et seq.) and regulatory (N.J.A.C. 5:34-4.1 et seq.) provisions of the process. The entire LFN is available at http://www.state.nj.us/dca/lgs/lfns/10lfnlis.shtml.
     
    Q. If a district is already working with a vendor, and they want to deepen the work through the grant program, does the district have to go out to bid? What type of bidding is required?
    A. It depends on the type of contract the district currently has with the vendor. If the current contract was awarded without bidding, then the district must go out for bids. If the work was publically offered and awarded, but the subject of the contract is materially different, the district must bid for the additional work. Please review the Administrative Code at N.J.A.C.5:30-11.1 et seq. In all instances, applicants should consult with their Business Administrator for guidance. If the BA needs guidance, they should contact their county office of education and consult with the County School Business Administrator.
     
    Q. Can districts conduct sole source bidding if they have very specific requirements that only one vendor can provide?
    A. No. The Public School Contracts Law does not include a sole-source exception; therefore, districts must use the competitive contracting process or the sealed bid process pursuant to N.J.S.A.18A:18A-15(d) for the procurement of proprietary services. Sole source bidding is not allowable for New Jersey districts.
     
    Q. Is it possible to have the special vendors included on the state contracts list?
    A. No. This would require the vendors be approved through NJ Treasury’s Division of Purchase and Property, and there is not sufficient time to have this done by September. The bidding must go through the districts’ purchasing agents.
     
    Q: If the district has already used/adopted a framework from a vendor, and it wants to deepen the work required by the grant program, is this considered to be supplanting Title IIA funds? When is the use of Title IIA funds considered to be supplementing versus supplanting?
    A: The EE4NJ grant funds are to supplement, not supplant (replace), existing Federal, State and/or local funds. Any services related to the pilot that are over and above what has already been contracted by the district are considered to be supplementing. If a district already has a contract in place to provide the same services required by the grant, then that would be considered to be supplanting and would not be an allowable use of those funds. The district would still need to contract for the specific services, according to the Administrative Code N.J.A.C.5:30-11.1 et seq. An LEA must determine what educational activities it would support if no Title II, Part Afunds were available. In no event may an LEA decrease State or local funds for particular activities simply because Title II, Part Afunds are available. Federal funds cannot be used to pay for anything that a school district would normally be required to pay for with either local funds or state aid. This requirement also covers job services previously provided by a different person or job title. The exceptions are for activities and services that are not currently provided or statutorily required, and for component(s) of a job that represent an expansion or enhancement of normally provided services.
     
    Q: If state funding used for current contracted services is cut and LEAs want to contract for those same services to fulfill pilot requirements, is that considered supplementing or supplanting?
    A: If the LEA picks up the contract, it will be seen as supplanting. If a contract was canceled over a year ago and there is Board of Education documentation stating that the services were canceled due to lack of funding, then the services must be rebid.
     
    Q: Are education services staff included in the teacher counts for determining grant funding levels?
    A: No; only full-time and part-time instructional staff can be counted and will be included in the new evaluation system for the pilot year. The NJDOE will develop guidelines for evaluating all school staff in the future.
     
    Q: Must pilot districts purchase a web-based performance management tool to record teacher evaluations?
    A: Given the large number of evaluations required, and the need to accurately capture the information on the multiple measures of teacher effectiveness that will make up the summative rating, it is critical that a web-based performance management tool be used. While several of the teacher practice frameworks have proprietary web-based tools, it is not necessary to purchase one as long as the district is using a web-based tool.
     
    Q: What are the rules for districts of different sizes?
    A:The NJDOE is providing more than $1.1 million of total funding to as many as nine pilot districts. Each applicant district with 600 or fewer teachers must develop a district-wide program that includes all schools and teachers. Since there is a cap on the per-district award amount, applicant districts with more than 600 teachers may choose to select a subset of their schools to participate or may choose to include more teachers and schools and bear any costs above the funding threshold. Teacher counts must include participating teachers from nonpublic schools. Grant funding amounts were derived based on costs of known teacher evaluation framework providers.
     
    Q: What kind of commitment must a district have from stakeholder groups to apply for the pilot?
    A: The district must seek a commitment from stakeholder groups to participate in the pilot program. If the district is unable to provide evidence of this support prior to the application deadline of July 28, it may complete the alternate assurance located at: http://www.state.nj.us/education/grants/docs/11-CO01-S01x.doc. This option requires applicants to provide a plan to get support from key stakeholder groups, including central office administrators, school administrators conducting evaluations, teachers, and the local school board. The plan should outline ways that the district will engage with these groups and ensure their participation in and ability to advise on implementing the new evaluation system.
     
    Q: Can charter and vocational-technical schools apply?
    A: Yes; charter and vocational-technical schools, as distinct LEAs, are eligible to apply if they meet all other pilot criteria.
     
    Q: Can 3 LEAs apply together as 1 unit, if the LEAs have formal send-receive agreements?
    A: No; the LEA may only apply on behalf of itself (and not on behalf of another LEA). If the sending LEAs each want to apply on their own, they may do so.
     
    Q: Are any LEAs ineligible?
    A: The following types of LEAs are ineligible to apply for a grant under this program:
    • County Vocational School districts that have shared-time students; and
    • Jointure Commissions, Educational Service Commissions, and Special Services School Districts.
    Q: Are districts with School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools eligible to apply?
    A: Yes. SIG schools will participate in implementation of the new teacher evaluation system but will not be part of pilot funding through the NGO since they have their own federal funding source. In its grant application, a SIG district will need to provide an explanation for how it will coordinate efforts funded under this program with similar work in its SIG schools.
     
    Q: What are the obligations for pilot applicants?
    A: Pilot districts will be expected to fully participate in all aspects of the project, including:
    • Committing to begin the provider bidding process by mid-July, with final contracting contingent on being awarded the grant;
    • Using student growth scores from NJASK in evaluations and helping develop new, high-quality assessments in currently untested grades and subjects;
    • Using a teacher practice framework that is research-based and shown to be reliable, among other criteria;
    • Establishing a district stakeholder advisory committee ; and
    • Beginning evaluator training by Sep. 30, 2011, and teacher training by Nov. 1, 2011.
    Applicants should consult with their nonpublic schools about their interest in participating prior to developing their proposal, as equitable participation for non-publics is required by statute.
     
    Q: How will pilot districts be selected, and what are the selection criteria?
    A: Reviewers will use the selection criteria specified in the NGO to review applications. We are looking for districts committed to implementing a robust evaluation system that includes measures of student achievement. We are also looking for partners who will help us learn lessons along the way and develop plans for a strong statewide system. The selection process will seek to ensure that the state’s diversity is represented; this includes different regions of the state and varying District Factor Groups (DFGs). Additional criteria include, but are not limited to:
    • Stakeholder support and engagement in implementation and providing feedback; and
    • Central Office commitment to supporting principals through implementation.
    Q: What is the timeline for pilot application and selection?
    A: The Notice of Grant Opportunity (NGO) was released on June 15, 2011. The application is located at: http://www.state.nj.us/education/EE4NJ. The application deadline is July 28, 2011. We plan to announce selected districts in August, and evaluator training should begin in September.
     
    Q: Is there any technical assistance support for the NGO?
    A: Technical assistance sessions for the EE4NJ NGO were held on June 20 and July 11, 2011 at the New Jersey Department of Education. You can view the PowerPoint presentation from the sessions on our Webinar/Technical Assistance page. Questions and answers resulting from the TA sessions have been added to these FAQ, and are indicated as new. Email inquiries may be directed to EE4NJ@doe.state.nj.us