Press Release: For Immediate Release


    Nancy Sergeant, SGW, 973-299-5471, nsergeant@sgw.com

    Mary Appelmann, SGW, 973-263-5182, mappelmann@sgw.com

    Brian Hyland, SGW, 201-410-4563, bhyland@sgw.com

    Anne H. Gallagher, NJASA Director of Communications, 609-599-2900, ext. 126, agallagher@njasa.net
    • Dr. Richard Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, is available to discuss the controversial ‘Race to the Top’ application and program implementation.

    Merit Pay is ‘Okay,’ Say School Administrators,

    But Be Careful How Performance Is Measured


    New ‘Race to the Top’ Application to Debut, May 10, Will Bring

    Divided Sentiments; NJASA Asks for District Support and

    Careful Consideration on Student Assessment


    TRENTON, N.J. – May 7, 2010 –The new ‘Race to the Top’ application to be revealed on Monday, May 10, by Education Commissioner Bret Schundler is said to include provisions for merit pay for teachers based on student performance, a controversial measure that has the support of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.


    “We understand that there is a need to evaluate whether teachers are instructing effectively and students are learning,” Dr. Richard Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA). “Just as in any line of business, you would want to evaluate the success of your product or service. For example, if you were manufacturing sneakers, you wouldn’t do it without some sort of quality control. You’d want to put them on the feet of your customers and test them out. With the ‘Race to the Top’ assessments, we’re putting the sneakers on kids’ feet, so to speak. Our challenge is to do so effectively. The devil will be in the details.”


    The federal ‘Race to the Top’ fund provides competitive grants to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform, especially in chronically underperforming schools. Incorporating merit pay is intended to attract effective teachers to work with the most challenged students.


    Some groups have opposed the grants, noting that "tying teacher pay to students’ performance puts too much weight on standardized test scores and increases pressure to teach to the test.”1


    “This is a hot button topic,” said Bozza. “After all, what are the criteria to measure success in arts education? How will you measure achievement in a music program for example?”


    In addition, Bozza noted that former Abbott districts start at a disadvantage and may not be able to meet the same test scores as wealthier districts.


    “It’s going to be different in Montville than in Camden,” he said. “In areas where there is little home support, poverty and crime, the students will be in a different place. We need to look carefully at how we are going to assess those students, and not penalize them or the teachers, for those differences. In that way, it makes sense to choose a performance-based assessment that is measured by improvement over time as opposed to a single test score.”


    Commissioner Schundler indicated that merit pay was being introduced into the Race to the Top applications to help New Jersey win federal funding, as much as up to $400 million. New Jersey was not a finalist in the first round of applications for Race to the Top. Bozza noted that the additional money would not be used to stop teacher layoffs or fund programs that have been cut.


    “These monies are allocated toward specific issues,” he said. “They will not counter the budget cuts.”


    About NJASA

    The New Jersey Association of School Administrators is an organization of Chief Education Officers and school administrators who lead school districts in New Jersey’s 21 counties. The Association’s mission is to ensure a superior statewide system of education. Through ongoing professional training and education, the association shares knowledge among its members about best practices from both an educational and an administrative perspective. Its goal is to move education forward by ensuring the highest quality of instruction for all New Jersey’s children.

    # # #

    1Brody, Leslie, “Christie Administration: Teacher merit pay bill will be introduced for NJ schools,” The Record, Wednesday, May 5, 2010.