With the Excellent Educators for New Jersey (EE4NJ) framework, the state of New Jersey is working to improve teacher quality and student outcomes using a new system for educator evaluations. The evaluation system, which must be implemented in all districts in 2013-14, is composed of equal parts teacher practice and direct measures of student achievement. To prepare for the oncoming avalanche of data from multiple measures in these areas — including classroom observation tools, state assessments, student growth objectives, and student and school-wide performance measures, among others — forward-thinking districts are discarding their pen-and-paper evaluation systems and embracing technology.
One solution being adopted by a growing number of New Jersey districts is Performance Matters, an integrated, web-based platform for student assessment, data management and teacher effectiveness. While districts like New Brunswick Public Schools and Nutley Public Schools have been using the Performance Matters assessment and data management system for years, they are now adding the FASTe (Formative Action System for Teacher Effectiveness) platform to meet new rules for educator evaluation and professional development under the Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey (TEACHNJ) Act.
FASTe provides a turnkey system for evaluating educator effectiveness, with an easy-to-implement framework that can be customized for each school system. Accessible year-round, the online platform enables educators to “progress monitor” their performance against the multiple measures that make up their annual evaluations and link to relevant, timely professional development resources. At the end of the year, FASTe produces multi-measure summative rating reports based on the school system’s criteria.
“FASTe will help streamline the evaluation process and help us become even more accountable for what goes on in the classroom,” said Richard M. Kaplan, superintendent of New Brunswick Public Schools. “A key benefit of FASTe is that it will raise the bar in terms of the level of data we can collect to improve teacher effectiveness. It will provide us with a practical way to make a greater impact in each of our curricular areas, particularly as we move toward the Common Core State Standards. It all comes back to what the system is about, which is enhancing educator effectiveness. With FASTe, we can better connect student outcomes to teacher actions, and connect teachers with the resources they need to improve their practice.”
According to districts, a key benefit of FASTe is that it can be used with any of the state-approved teacher practice evaluation frameworks or any other framework or tool used to collect and review evidence of teacher practice.
“We’ve been using Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, which is one of the New Jersey Department of Education’s approved teaching practice evaluation instruments. We added FASTe because we wanted to provide our principals and teachers with the ability to conduct evaluations electronically and, more important, to use the evaluations for self-reflection,” said Andrew Levine, director of instructional technology and communication for Nutley Public Schools. “Teachers see FASTe as a unique tool that will enhance their individual professional growth. From the data analysis side of things, I have not seen anything like it.”
About Performance Matters
Performance Matters helps K-12 school systems improve student learning by providing comprehensive, integrated solutions for assessment, data management and teacher effectiveness. Based in Winter Park, Fla., Performance Matters’ solutions are used by school districts across the country. For more information, visit www.performancematters.com or call 407-645-1800.