Evaluating Newark’s School Staffing and Performance

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Speaking of Newark Public Schools, this past December the well-regarded organization called The New Teacher Project (of Widget Effect fame) partnered with Newark to evaluate the “impact of the school district’s policies and practices…to build and maintain strong instructional teams.” Here’s the results:

1. Newark Public Schools sabotages its ability to hire high-quality teachers by not responding promptly to early applicants, especially in high-need subject areas. According to the report, teachers hired before June 1 for the coming school year are more likely to receive a “distinguished” evaluation rating, yet Newark waits until August and September to make most of its job offers. 73% of principals “have lost a desirable candidate because they could not make a timely offer.”

2. While both teachers and administrators vastly prefer to have interviews before being moved from one school to another, “more than half of all administrators have been forced to accept a less desirable teacher candidate ‘force-placed’ by the Human Resources Department. “85% of principals have had a teacher placed into their school without an interview.”

3. Newark’s teacher evaluation data is “useless.” Teachers with excellent reviews are not rewarded and administrators do not help teachers with poor reviews to improve. Instead, “some principals pass them from school to school: more than a quarter of principals report ‘excessing’ a teacher or encouraging a teacher to transfer on the basis of poor performance. As a result, NPS retains its least effective teachers at roughly the same rate as it retains its best teachers.

4. The highest-poverty schools in Newark have fewer highly-rated teachers than less impoverished schools. Attrition at the poorest schools is high and empty positions are often filled with internal transfers, “including forced placement.”

5. There’s no “reliable pool” of high-quality assistant principals ready to become principals, and over half of current principals “have enough experience to qualify for retirement.”

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