A 50-page report released on Monday by New Jersey’s Department of Education rates over 97 percent of the state’s teachers as either “effective” or “highly effective.”
Out of New Jersey’s roughly 100,000-strong teaching corps, just 2,900, or 2.8 percent, received the lesser ratings of “partly effective” or “ineffective.” Under the state’s rating system, a teacher with an unsatisfactory rating is to be put on an improvement plan, while two straight bad ratings could put their jobs at risk.
The ratings were even more generous to principals. Only 2.4 percent of them were labeled “partly effective,” and just 0.2 percent were “ineffective.”
New Jersey education statistics paint a different picture, however.
Compared to many other states, New Jersey’s education statistics aren’t awful. The school’s high school graduation rate is over 88 percent, and its students perform reasonably well on the federal government’s National Assessment of Educational Progress tests used to compared different states.
But this success comes in spite of several school districts that produce horrible outcomes for students. In the Camden City School District, which has about 1,300 faculty, only three students (not 3 percent — three) who graduated in 2013 were deemed “college-ready,” and only one student in seven is proficient in math and reading. In the state capital of Trenton, the graduation rate is only 50 percent— and that’s actually an improvement over years past.
In Newark — the state’s largest school district with over 2,500 teachers — poor performance has been well-entrenched, as the city has gone through a state takeover and a $100 million Mark Zuckerberg donation without making much more than a dent in its overall achievement rates. According to a report released this spring, only 19 percent of Newark high schoolers are on track to be college-ready in reading, and a miserable 4 percent are expected to be college-ready in science.
Despite all these areas of failure, however, according to New Jersey, over 97 percent of New Jersey teachers are apparently effective, and the state’s largest teachers union is using the new evaluations as a chance to spike the football.
“It is encouraging, but not surprising, that 97.3 percent of New Jersey’s teachers were rated effective or highly effective in the first year of the new evaluation system,” New Jersey Education Association president Wendell Steinhauer told NJ.com.
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