Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
Giving teachers a report card is proving to be much more difficult than grading their students.
The New York Daily News reports that a year-and-a-half court battle ended Friday with New York City’s public release of 18,000 teacher rankings known as Teacher Data Reports. The controversial system is based on how much progress a teacher's students have made on standardized tests. The city began compiling data in 2007 to come up with the so-called value-added ratings.
The evaluation system is part of the state’s quest for President Obama’s Race to the Top funding, which will divvy up $4.35 billion in cash among states that meet a handful of federal requirements to turn around low-achieving schools.
The New York Times points out that the move will complicate the an already tense relationship between the government and teachers unions, which fought to keep the rankings private on the grounds of teachers' privacy rights and public-disclosure rules.
The Times explains:
The union, the United Federation of Teachers, is responding to the release with a $100,000-plus newspaper advertising campaign starting on Friday. With the headline “This Is No Way to Rate a Teacher,” the advertisements will feature an open letter from the union president, Michael Mulgrew, that displays a complex mathematical formula followed by a checklist of reasons why the ratings are problematic.
“The Department of Education should be ashamed of itself,” Mr. Mulgrew said Thursday. “It has combined bad tests, a flawed formula and incorrect data to mislead tens of thousands of parents about their children’s teachers.”
Mayor Bloomberg on Friday stressed that the courts, and not the mayor's office, were the ones that forced the release of the rankings, and emphasized that the ratings were only part of a larger picture. He said the information will shed light on tenure decisions and classroom performance.
"It's just one data point and there's lots of data points," the mayor said on an NYC radio show. "We first developed the reports to try to get some kind of an honest assessment of what people do and find ways to help the teachers." He added: "Keep in mind, we want every teacher to succeed."