Are you responsible for compliance with state requirements at your New Jersey school district? Were you surprised by the 2016 AchieveNJ changes to evaluations that were released last summer?
You’re not alone! After working with NJ administrators to implement staff performance software for this school year, and chatting with district staff at last week’s Techspo conference in Atlantic City, it's clear that evaluations are starting to look drastically different for New Jersey.
State Mandates with AchieveNJ
From deadlines, to requirements, the New Jersey Department of Education made five major (and a handful of minor) alterations to the expectations for staff performance evaluations in 2016. The goal of the changes was to lessen frustration, paperwork, and time spent scheduling when the NJ DOE changed:
- The number of observations
- Duration of time spent observing
- The options for evaluating highly-effective teachers
- Deadline for CAP completion and PDP submission
- Alignment of SGO training and district SGO policy
- Flexibility with the Evaluation Leadership Rubric for principals
I remember the first call I got from a school district administrator who needed to customize the OnCourse Evaluate/SGO system setup and professional development to facilitate these changes quickly. There was panic in her voice until we realized how easy it was going to be to pivot in order to remain state compliant. It's always going to be easiest for NJ admins to work with an education technology partner that has the flexibility to shift as fast as state requirements do.
How Are NJ Districts Adjusting?
This past week, we presented a 60-minute session with Jessica Ballester from East Rutherford school district in New Jersey on NJ mandate changes for staff evaluations. Jessica offered valuable insight on how schools successfully adjusted to the AchieveNJ requirements for the 2016-17 school year.
- Attended state training for administrators
- Teachers received personalized training on SGO/evaluation mandates
- Participated in state waivers the year prior to the implementation of new requirements
- Adopted OnCourse Evaluate and SGO in June of 2016
- Staff trained during and after new EdTech implementation
- Administrators offer refreshers to teachers for state requirements and new EdTech
- Staff PD is specifically designed to meet goals identified from observations
Creativity with PDPs
There are more opportunities than ever for educators to engage in a spectrum of professional development avenues each year. While professional development and teacher practice support has always been one of the main goals of observations, PD is starting to shift from strictly instructional feedback, to a technology-based focus.
For instance, professional learning communities are starting to take place online as a part of learning management systems, EdTech companies and regional school districts are hosting their own smaller summits and user groups, and supplemental training is often focused on technology implementation. The best part is that educators become equipped to turnkey information throughout the year, thus making professional development more impactful so staff can truly grow professionally.
Walkthroughs Make a Comeback?
Remember “Walkthroughs?" This is a style of observation that was used years ago all throughout New Jersey to gather feedback to help support teachers improve their practice. However, with the former length of required observation time, it became challenging for schools to keep up.
Well, with the 2016 AchieveNJ reduction of required time spent observing teachers in the classroom, administrators are finding it necessary to conduct these informal check-ins with teachers to help formulate meaningful feedback and support to each individual. In fact, the state required anyone who participated in the waiver/pilot of these requirements in 2015 to include evidence of staff walkthroughs/feedback.
Could this be a fleeting reaction to state mandates or are Walkthroughs here to stay for New Jersey? So far, NJ administrators have reported that they plan on implementing and keeping these helpful little 15-minute formative sessions.
Staff Performance Data Visualization
From student data, to staff performance metrics, New Jersey administrators have been gathering mountains of information in their schools for decades. Education technology has historically promised to act as somewhat of a magic wand for making this practice meaningful, when in reality EdTech more often than not requires a full time data analyst to make any sense of it all.
With the pioneering of Data Visualization, OnCourse Analytics promises to be the first EdTech system ever to take real-time information, and translate it into colorful, easy to understand infographics. Admins keep a firm handle on school operations such as; attendance, discipline, enrollment, demographics, staff performance, and much more; without depending on someone else to run the numbers for them.
Data Visualization is becoming the greatest advancement in education technology. OnCourse Analytics takes the same methodology that fortune 50 companies use to inform decisions, and makes it affordable/available to k12 schools!To schedule a demo and learn more about Data Visualization and OnCourse Analytics, please click here.