American Institutes for Research Shares Initial Findings on NPS’ Educator Evaluation & Compensation Systems

First year of three-year study shows that educators find evaluation system to be an accurate, fair and useful way to measure performance

[Newark, NJ – February 26] – American Institutes for Research (AIR) shared findings today from the first of a multi-year independent study about Newark Public Schools’ (NPS) educator evaluation and compensation system. Overall, the report shows that a majority of NPS teachers and school leaders perceive the new system as a valid, accurate, fair and useful way to measure performance. Researchers also found that the district retains educators who are rated effective or highly effective at higher rates than those with lower ratings.

The study, the first of three annual reports in a three-year evaluation by AIR, was commissioned by NPS to review the implementation and impact of the NPS-Newark Teachers Union (NTU) teacher contract and associated initiatives designed to improve teaching effectiveness and, ultimately, student achievement.

“We are grateful to the researchers at AIR,” said Superintendent Christopher D. Cerf of NPS. “We think these findings show promising progress, reinforcing what we already know – that we are retaining our best teachers. We will continue to listen to feedback from our educators and will use the information they have shared thus far to continue to improve our implementation of these programs. We are committed to continuing an objective and transparent evaluation of our programs and initiatives going forward.”

In 2012-13, NPS ratified a new contract with its teachers union to implement a set of initiatives designed to improve teaching effectiveness and student achievement. Some key components of the contract included: a new educator evaluation system, a differentiated teacher compensation system, extended learning time in a subset of schools and more school-based decision making regarding staffing.

Sixty-five percent of NPS teachers and school leaders participated in the AIR surveys about the new contract. Major findings include:

  • The new evaluation system is perceived as valid, accurate, fair, and useful by educators. Both teachers and school leaders also reported that the evaluation system provides useful and actionable feedback that can inform teachers’ instructional practices. More specifically, 71 percent of teachers and 98 percent of school leaders agreed that the evaluations provide an accurate measure of teacher performance; and 78 percent of teachers and 96 percent of school leaders indicated that the current evaluation system provides useful feedback and has led teachers to change the way they teach.
  • Teachers who were rated higher on the new evaluation system were more likely to remain teaching in Newark schools. In 2013-14, one year after the system was revamped, teachers rated as “effective” and “highly effective” were retained at rates that exceeded 90 percent, while only 72 percent of “partially effective” and 63 percent of “ineffective” teachers returned to the classroom.
  • A majority of educators found extended learning time for student instruction and teacher collaboration in schools to be useful. Of those who reported that they work at schools with extended learning time, 83 percent of teachers and 91 percent of school leaders indicated that time for student instruction was added. Of that group, 66 percent of teachers and 68 percent of school leaders said the extra time was helpful.
  • While support for the current compensation system was mixed among teachers and school leaders, a majority of teachers and school leaders reported that the bonuses should be available; specifically, 63 percent of the teachers who reported that they are paid on the traditional scale, 74 percent of the teachers who reported that they are paid on the universal scale, and 86 percent of all school leaders indicated that the financial bonuses offered under the universal salary scale should be available. Additionally, those who described themselves as “knowledgeable” about the teacher contract had a more positive attitude about the compensation system and other related initiatives.

“We are very encouraged by educator views that the evaluation system is an accurate and fair way to measure effectiveness. A strong evaluation system is the foundation for a strong system that will allow us to provide accurate feedback to help our educators learn and grow,” noted Larisa Shambaugh, Interim Chief Talent Officer. “We will examine the data and feedback provided across other parts of the system, particularly in areas like compensation, to see how we can continue to help educators improve, retain those who are most effective, and work towards our goal of ensuring that there is a high quality educator in every classroom.”

In addition to the key findings, the report shared some recommendations about ways to improve educator evaluation and compensation systems. Researchers emphasized that since these findings reflect results from the first year of a three-year study that certain limitations should be considered when interpreting results. NPS will continue to work with schools and educators to collect data and feedback, and will build towards a more comprehensive and in-depth picture of these systems over the next two years.

About AIR
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education and workforce productivity. For more information, visit