Teacher Data Can Be Released: Appeals Court

The ruling affirms a lower court ruling in January

Thursday, Aug 25, 2011  |  Updated 5:08 PM EDT
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Teacher Data Release OK: Court

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An appeals court ruled Thursday that New York City can release performance ratings for 12,000 teachers.

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New York City can release performance ratings for 12,000 teachers based on student test scores, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.

The unanimous ruling by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Manhattan affirmed a lower court ruling in January.

The appeals court said the reports "concern information of a type that is of compelling interest to the public, namely, the proficiency of public employees in the performance of their job duties."

The United Federation of Teachers had sued to block the release of the performance ratings. Union lawyers argued that releasing the data would invade teachers' privacy and that the ratings were based on faulty statewide tests.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the union would appeal Thursday's decision.

At issue are so-called value-added scores for elementary and middle school teachers whose students take New York state math and English tests.

The ratings are intended to measure whether a particular teacher's students scored better or worse than expected on the tests. The city Department of Education uses the data to evaluate teachers' job performance.

Five media organizations filed Freedom of Information Law requests for the ratings after The Los Angeles Times published similar data for 6,000 Los Angeles teachers last year.

The UFT has argued that the value-added methodology is flawed and is based on standardized tests that were discredited after the state Education Department said they had become too easy to pass.

City Department of Education spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz said the union "has informed us that they intend to appeal the decision, and we will await the court's decision on their request to appeal before we release the data."

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