In a recent article, the New Jersey Department of Education has released the most recent teacher evaluation scores. The released data reveals that most New Jersey teachers are proficient. The teacher evaluation data misrepresents teacher effectiveness as indicated by student achievement.

According to the article, the data was released after several media outlets and the New Jersey Advance Media requested the information through the open records request process. Teachers can receive four possible ratings which include highly effective, effective, partially effective, and ineffective.

During the 2013 – 2014 school year, 66 percent third through eighth graders were considered proficient or advanced proficient. Seventy-four percent of the students were considered proficient or better in mathematics. Ninety three percent of high school students were considered proficient in language arts while eighty-four percent were proficient in mathematics. On average, seventy-nine percent of New Jersey students were proficient in Language Arts and mathematics. The New Jersey teacher evaluation system is not consistent with student achievement.

Out of 113,000 New Jersey teachers, the teacher evaluation system reveals that 109,000 teachers or 97 percent attained either highly effective or effective rating for the 2013-2014 school year. Many of the teacher evaluations are based on 85 percent administrative observations and 15 percent on student growth as evidenced by local tests, quizzes or other projects. The teacher evaluation system implies that it is more important for a teacher to have a positive relationship with adults than it is to have with the students who they service.

Why is it important for the positive relationships between teachers and students to outweigh the relationships between teachers and administrators as indicated by the assessment guidelines of the New Jersey teacher evaluation system?

Positive relationships at schools and in the classroom are in many ways the prerequisites for effective learning and behavior. Students and teachers who are warm, compassionate, and friendly toward one another in the classroom have the potential to improve instruction and learning.

Developing positive relationships with students provides benefits for schools, teachers, and students. Having positive and caring relationships in schools increases resilience and protects children from academic failure, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and destructive behavior and violence. Long-term teacher-student relationships result in increased teacher job satisfaction. Teachers who have positive feelings toward their students are more likely to have students reciprocate those positive feelings. Teachers who develop positive and personal relationships with students may prevent psychological development problems in their students. Students are more willing to develop positive relationships with teachers who tend to form close friendships with their students.

Teachers can build positive teacher-student classroom relationships. The keys to positive relationships with students are:

  • Checking student knowledge by asking students what they already know
  • Providing students time to explore and discover
  • Celebrating student accomplishments
  • Respecting students, which includes expecting students to have wisdom
  • Exploring how they view things and discussing differences




What are some of the indicators that teacher evaluation systems should include?

The interpersonal relationship between students and teachers has a profound impact on instructional activities and outcomes. Teachers respond to their favorite students by creating a warmer and more positive classroom atmosphere, providing superior feedback on how they are performing, teach challenging material, and increase opportunities to respond to questions. Teacher warmth increases student vocabulary and arithmetic achievement. Warm relationships between teachers and students motivate students to meet teachers’ requests for compliance.

Students are more willing to develop positive relationships with teachers who tend to get emotionally involved with their teaching. High school students believe good teachers express enthusiastic energy that translates into excitement and good teachers are nice but not rude. Sixth grade students believe the best teachers are flexible and fair when they respect children by their willingness to listen to students. Sixth grade students believe teachers make learning useful when they use cross-curricular teaching. Sixth grade students believe the best teachers have demanding expectations, are enthusiastic and resourceful, and help students with their work.

Elementary school students believe good teachers:

  • Make lessons fun
  • Ask easy questions
  • Give breaks during lesson time
  • Do not give difficult homework
  • Treat all students well
  • Treat all students equally
  • Are willing to listen to students
  • Act like parents to students
  • Are interested in each student individually
  • Share students’ problems, concerns, and joys
  • Love students

The New Jersey teacher evaluation system make the importance of teacher student classroom relationships less important than teacher administrator relationships.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology

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