New York Gets Closer to Making Teacher Rankings Public
Value-added teacher rankings are one step closer to being the reality in Gotham.
Value-added teacher rankings are one step closer to reality in Gotham. According to a ruling by the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, media outlets and the general public have the right to the names of more than 12,000 teachers, and the standardized test score based performance data of their students.
In her opinion, judge Cynthia S. Kern's wrote that the courts
have repeatedly held that release of job-performance related information, even negative information such as that involving misconduct, does not constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy.\n
Although the United Federation of Teachers, which represents New York City's public school teachers, cited a promise from the New York City Department of Education not to disclose such data, Kern maintained that
Although the teachers have an interest in these possibly flawed statistics remaining private, it was not arbitrary and capricious for the DOE to find that the privacy interest at issue is outweighed by the public's interest in disclosure.\n
Demand for value-added teacher performance data has grown since the Los Angeles Timespublished an online database last August. Type in the name of an individual elementary teacher, or the name of a school, and the database generates a ranking—most to least effective—according to a teacher's or school's ability to boost students' math and English scores. In the aftermath of the release, one teacher committed suicide.
Although value-added data is not currently a part of teacher evaluations in New York, that could change by 2013—a move that concerns critics like Dr. Daniel Koretz, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Koretz takes issue with score inflation on the standardized tests. Critics also say the considerable margin of error in the data means that a teacher who shows up in the 58th percentile might actually be in the 85th percentile.
The DOE claims that despite the flaws, the data is, "the best available quantitative measure of teacher performance, particularly for teachers who rank consistently high or low."
Given the 27-point margin of error and other inaccuracies in the data, UFT president Michael Mulgrew expressed his disappointment with Kern's ruling and said in a statement that the union plans to appeal. The city's lawyers said that until the outcome of the appeal is known, the city will continue to keep the data reports confidential.