Mike Bloomberg, Albany Dispute Release of Teacher Ranking Data


Will teacher rankings be made public?

This is a complicated question, and will likely be decided soon by New York pols.

But first, a bit of background. Remember that various media outlets published in February 18,000 New York City teacher ratings, after the United Federation of Teachers lost a lengthy legal battle to keep the data under wraps. Three courts had decided that the data is considered public record under the Freedom of Information Act. Teachers, however, were angry. They say the largely test-based system is flawed, and that printing the data gives an inaccurate sense of teacher quality.

Now that New York has adopted a more complex evaluation system, Albany is weighing whether to limit broad access — an idea that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long opposed.

The Post reports: “Albany lawmakers aren’t seeking to block parents from sharing teacher-ratings data with one another — but they’re ‘hung up’ over how to keep that circle of information closed to outsiders.” Lawmakers might decide the issue in as little as two weeks.

Bloomberg has shot back at these reports, saying “he wanted all parts of public schoolteachers’ evaluations to be open for all to see — not restricted to parents, as some in Albany are suggesting,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

And recent stats indicate that 58 percent of New Yorkers agree with Mike: They think everyone who wants should get to see the info.

Now, there are a couple of things worth pointing out. The teacher data reports measure value-added performance — broken down, this is basically standardized test-based info that is supposed to indicate how much students learn.

But, as Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott cautioned before the release: “The reports were never intended to judge a teacher’s overall success in the classroom. No single measure can do that — whether it’s value-added data, the results of a classroom observation or anything else.”

And, as the Voice‘s Nat Hentoff noted, standardized test rankings of any sort — be they raw or refined — do miss a big part of the picture: student input.

That said, the Voice will keep you updated with any updates.

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