Chris Christie signed into law this week a reform to New Jersey’s 103-year-old teacher tenure law. The reform is bipartisan in nature, with multiple Democratic sponsors in the New Jersey’s legislature and the support of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). The law, as pointed out by Teresa Shumay of the Heritage Foundation, is a step in the right direction .
The bill requires all teachers to undergo yearly evaluations based primarily on student performance, and any teacher who receives two consecutive negative evaluations can lose tenure. Lawmakers hope that these evaluations and consequences will not only lead underperforming teachers to seek other career options but also encourage talented, tenured teachers to maintain strong teaching performance.
The law also changes the process for gaining tenure. Under the current system, effective and ineffective teachers alike receive tenure after only three years of employment. The new law extends the amount of time teachers must teach before being awarded tenure, and teachers must achieve two positive evaluations in their first three years in the classroom.