PA Coalition for World Class Math

                                       NYC teacher ratings to go public (2/14/2012)

Teachers’ Ratings to Go Public After Union Loses Appeal


Wall Street Journal

February 14, 2012, 5:29 PM ET

New York City has been cleared to release performance reports for thousands of teachers after a state court on Tuesday declined to hear a final appeal from the city’s teachers union to keep the information private.

The reports, which rate teachers against their peers, were created in 2008 under former Chancellor Joel Klein as part of a push to evaluate educators using student test scores. They use a complex formula to try to isolate each individual teacher’s effect on their students’ performance, adjusting for factors such as poverty, class size and absenteeism.

About a dozen news organizations, including The Wall Street Journal, requested copies of the reports from the city in 2010, but the United Federation of Teachers sued to block the release. The union argued it would be an invasion of teachers’ privacy.

The reports use state tests to compute teachers’ scores and cover about 12,500 educators who teach math or English in fourth through eighth grade. Critics of the system have charged the reports are unreliable because of their wide margins of error.

New York state hired a company to create similar reports for teachers across the state. In August, city officials decided to abandon their own formula and use the state’s instead, to avoid what they said seemed to be a duplication of effort.

The data reports will eventually be used as part of a teacher’s overall performance evaluation. Under a law passed in 2010, it will be easier to fire teachers with two straight bad evaluations. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed giving permanent raises to teachers with the best evaluations.

Matt Mittenthal, a spokesman with the city’s Department of Education, said the data would be released “in the coming weeks.”

“These reports, which include data from almost two years ago, are just one indicator of teacher effectiveness and do not tell the whole story — but the data is useful to principals in their management and support of teachers, especially those at the top and bottom,” he said in a statement.

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said the release is “particularly inappropriate” because the city will now use the state’s data analysis in the future.

“The teacher data reports are based on bad data and an unproven methodology with a huge margin of error,” he said. “They are not an accurate reflection of the work of any teacher.”