October 20, 2010
The debate that began in Los Angeles over whether it is ethical to release public school teachers’ effectiveness scores has made its way to New York City. The city’s Department of Education plans to give the ratings, which are based solely on test scores, to reporters this week.
According to sources familiar with the discussion, city officials are debating with the teachers union over whether to release the scores with or without teachers’ names attached. The union has announced that it plans to seek an injunction in order to halt the release.
“The union will charge in its lawsuit that the TDRs [teacher data reports] are ‘unreliable, often incorrect, subjective analyses dressed up as scientific facts,’ and the methodology’s calculations of individual teachers’ value-add is ‘a complex and largely subjective guessing game on the part of the DOE,’” union officials said in statement.
DOE press secretary Natalie Ravitz said the city plans to give reporters the ratings this Friday.
“It had been our intention to respond to those FOILs and release the information today. However, UFT lawyers informed us that they intend to sue us to prevent the release,” she said in a statement.
“While we respect UFT’s right to sue, we believe that the public has a right to this information under the law. Therefore, unless we are enjoined by the Court, it is our intention to release the data on Friday afternoon to those news outlets who filed FOIL requests,” Ravitz said.
The release would cover all 12,000 city teachers who have value-added reports, which measure a teacher’s effectiveness based on how good she is at improving her students’ test scores from the beginning of the year to the end.
The reports are a relatively new way of measuring teacher effectiveness and have been criticized by some researchers for their wide margins of error.
About 85 percent of city teachers don’t have value-added scores because they teach subjects other than English or math that are not covered by the state’s assessments.
Reporters from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Daily News, and NY1 submitted Freedom of Information Requests for the value-added scores. GothamSchools did not request the scores.