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N.J. Lawmaker Wants Parent Involvement Included in Teachers' Reviews

For a long time, teachers' unions and other advocates have complained that new evaluation systems being crafted ignore all the other factors that can affect students' learning. For instance, what about the parents who aren't involved in activities such as reading to them, making sure they have a place to do homework, or teaching them about comportment?

Value-added measures based on students' standardized-test scores have been a solution favored by some, since in theory those measures screen out things like family income that might skew estimates of teachers' effectiveness. But teachers' unions have grave concerns about the complicated statistical formulas, saying they're opaque and inaccurate.

Entering stage left to offer an alternative is New Jersey Assemblyman John Burzichelli. Last month, the Democrat introduced a bill in the state legislature that would charge the state's commissioner with developing ways of quantifying "the degree and impact of parental involvement on student achievement." Those factors would be included in the state's teacher-evaluation framework. (New Jersey passed a law in 2012 revamping teacher tenure and evaluation.) 

The proposal says those factors could potentially include how responsive the parent is to the teachers' communications, including documents that require signatures; parents' participation in parent-teacher conferences; and students' homework completion rates.

It isn't clear how (or whether) this information would affect the student-achievement component of students' scores; the bill itself doesn't say. But presumably, a teacher who had to deal with very uninvolved parents might get some kind of protection from a bad evaluation score.

The state's largest teachers' union doesn't appear to have taken a position on the bill yet. And so far, it hasn't budged from committee.

Read Burzichelli's proposal below, and a nice analysis of the bill from the Asbury Park Press here.


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