Board of Education adopts new teacher evaluation model

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Board of Education unanimously approved a new teacher-evaluation model at its March 26 meeting that will take effect beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. The Charlotte Danielson Teacher Evaluation will replace the district’s current method, the Marzano model. The BOE also approved spending $13,500 to contract the services of the Danielson Group, an educational company that offers professional development to teachers and school districts, to train 50 staff members as in-district trainers.

The change comes on the recommendation of the District Evaluation Assessment Committee, which included Assistant Superintendent Eveny de Mendez, English language arts 6-12 supervisor Elizabeth Veneziano, social studies supervisor Stephen Olshalsky and Hazel Elementary School Principal Will Kochis. The committee found the current Marzano evaluation system to be “not a viable option for the West Orange public schools.”

According to de Mendez, teachers had overwhelmingly negative feelings about the current model.

“The one word teachers used the most often to describe this model was ‘cumbersome,’” she said at the meeting. “Others described it as inconsistent, ineffective, redundant, unclear and overvalued.”

The DEAC was looking for a model that concentrated on good teaching and learning; clarity of expectations; inter-rater reliability, which allows for evaluations to be consistent; growth models that encourage teachers to make changes to improve student performance; a model that is fair for all teachers; and one that fosters a collaborative process in its implementation.

The Danielson model focuses on four different evaluation areas for teachers: planning and preparation, classroom environment, professional responsibilities and instruction, with each highlighting different aspects of the job. For example, planning and preparation asks that teachers have a deep knowledge of the content they are teaching, knowledge of their students and and an ability to design coherent instruction.

The classroom environment aspect of the Danielson model asks that teachers create an environment of respect and rapport, manage student behavior and manage basic classroom procedures. Professional responsibilities on which teachers are evaluated include: maintaining accurate records, showing professionalism, and growing and developing professionally.

One of the most aspects of the evaluation under the instruction portion of the Danielson model is how well teachers communicate with students. They will also be evaluated on how well they engage students in learning and their demonstration of flexibility and responsiveness.

According to de Mendez, 42 school districts in New Jersey currently use the Danielson model for evaluating their teachers. Among those 42 are the nearby districts in Orange, East Orange and South Orange-Maplewood.

Superintendent Jeffrey Rutzky supported the change in teacher evaluation systems.

“This is a fine model, and there will be plenty of time to train staff,” he said at the meeting.