New Jersey Department of Education

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Christie Administration Continues Focus on Effective Educators with New Principal Evaluation Pilot Program

$500,000 in Funding Available for 10-District Pilot to shape new evaluation system in 2012-13 School Year

For Immediate Release Contact: Justin Barra
Allison Kobus
Date: April 19, 2012 609-292-1126

Trenton, NJ – Furthering the goal of ensuring schools and students are being served by highly effective educators, the Christie Administration announced today a competitive grant opportunity for approximately 10 districts or charter schools to pilot a new principal evaluation system in the 2012-13 school year.  This new system, which builds on the existing Excellent Educators for New Jersey teacher evaluation pilot program, will help all principals to continuously improve their practice with a meaningful and objective system of evaluations.  The $500,000 available for this pilot will be drawn from the state’s $38 million Race to the Top 3 award received in December 2011. 

The goal of an improved principal evaluation system is to allow district administrators to better measure principal effectiveness, differentiate between those who are excelling and those who need support, and provide meaningful feedback in order to help all principals continuously improve.  Through this pilot, principals and administrators in participating districts will provide critical input and feedback to help shape the system that will be rolled out state-wide.

“There is no more important investment we can make from the state level than to ensure that we have the highest-quality principals and teachers working with our students on a day-to-day basis,” said Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf.  “Partnered with the ongoing development of our teacher evaluation system, this new principal evaluation pilot is a crucial next step to help all of our educators continuously improve their practice with the goal of ensuring that all of our students graduate from high school ready for college and career.”

The principal evaluation pilot is an extension of the Excellent Educators for New Jersey (EE4NJ) teacher evaluation pilot program launched in September 2011 that is currently underway in 11 districts and 19 School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools this year. In 2011, the New Jersey Educator Effectiveness Task Force recommended that Governor Christie develop a new teacher and principal evaluation system in order to ensure that New Jersey has the highest quality educators in the country. 

“Research shows that principals are the second most important in-school factor affecting student achievement after teachers, as they provide the instructional, cultural, and operational foundation of the school that is instrumental to teacher and student success,” said Acting Commissioner Cerf.  “We must provide our principals with the same type of meaningful feedback and data on their performance that we are now beginning to provide to teachers if we are serious in our mission to continue to improve student outcomes.”

As part of the new pilot program, each principal will receive an annual evaluation with a final rating on a four-tiered rating system, including “ineffective,” “partially effective,” “effective,” and “highly effective.”  The results of the evaluation will be tied to personalized professional development plans to help all principals improve. 

Key Features of the Principal Evaluation Include:

  • Half of the principal’s evaluation will be based on measures of effective practice, as measured through an evidence-supported or research-based principal practice evaluation instrument.  Districts will have flexibility in selecting a model to use, and can also use a model developed locally if it meets the state’s criteria. 
    • The evaluation will include multiple observations by a supervisor evaluating their instructional and organizational leadership and will take into account multiple sources of data.  Among the measures of effective practice, principals will be evaluated on their human capital management responsibilities, including their work to supervise, evaluate, and support school staff, a set of responsibilities essential to the improvement of teacher effectiveness.
  • Half of the principal’s evaluation will be based on measures of student outcomes to evaluate what matters most – whether students in their school are learning.  Similar to teacher evaluations, principals will never be evaluated on a single measure, let alone a single test. 
    • This component of the evaluation will be comprised of multiple measures of student learning, including the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJ ASK) and the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA), school-specific student learning goals, and other measures to be determined at the school level.

Similar to the teacher evaluation pilots, each district will convene a local advisory group that will meet over the course of the year to guide implementation and to build the necessary links between the systems for evaluating both principals and teachers.  In addition, significant attention will be spent on training both principals and district administrators on the evaluation system so that all stakeholders share a common language and set of expectations.

“Over the past year, we have heard from educators and administrators in our teacher evaluation pilot districts that nearly without exception they are having more meaningful and constructive conversations about their practice than ever before.  With steps already taken to tie this feedback to professional development, we are seeing evidence that the conditions are in place to support all teachers in the process of continuous improvement,” said Acting Commissioner Cerf.  “While there is still a long way to go, we are confident that with the support of our educators in the field, we will develop a new principal evaluation system that will benefit all of our principals across the state.” 

The primary goal of the pilot year is to learn as much as possible about both the successes and challenges of implementing a new principal evaluation system.  The Department of Education will partner with an outside researcher to provide additional information to inform statewide rollout.  Earlier this year, the Department announced a partnership with Rutgers University to provide an external evaluation of its teacher evaluation pilot program.

A copy of the principal evaluation Notice of Grant Opportunity (NGO) can be found here:

An update on the teacher evaluation pilot program can be found here: