City Agrees to Postpone the Release of Teacher Scores

The city agreed not to release the data pending a Nov. 24 hearing

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    NEWSLETTERS

    New York City agreed Thursday not to release job performance ratings for 12,000 teachers based on student test scores, with the teachers' names attached, until a court hearing next month.

    The teachers union had gone to court seeking an injunction to block the release of the teacher ratings, which it argues are based on unproven methodology.

    The two sides reached an interim agreement after conferring with a Manhattan judge. The city agreed not to release the data pending a Nov. 24 hearing.

    "The court asked that we postpone the release so that we can have an orderly schedule in the case," Schools Chancellor Joel Klein told  NBCNewYork. "The parties will file their papers. They'll be a hearing before the judge on November 24th and she said she would rule quickly."

    According to UFT President Michael Mulgrew: "This is bad information based on bad data and he's (Chancellor Klein) trying to mislead parents". Mulgrew says his union has been working with the state legislature to devise another teacher evaluation model and "when a reliable value-added system is developed, we will use it."

    The ratings come amid a national debate over how teachers should be evaluated and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's call to eliminate automatic tenure for the city's teachers.

    New York City's Department of Education officials, who originally told union representatives that they intended to keep the sensitive information private, said they could not find an exemption to state records laws that would preclude disclosure.

    The release was prompted by requests from several news organizations.

    Rachel Kuchinad, a public school parent -- and former teacher -- told us, "It wouldn't have bothered me to be rated, cause I knew I was a strong teacher."

    Another public school parent, Claire Bacon, says "I can see both sides. As a parent, it's nice to know, but that being said I think if you're involved in the classroom, you do ultimately know how well your teacher is doing."

    This so-called "value-added data" on city teachers uses a complex formula that tries to take into account test scores combined with factors outside of the teacher's control, such as poverty, class size, home life and disabilities.

    The report also compares teachers based on similar class size and living standards.

    Experts said the release of teacher scores by the district could be a milestone and could increase the possibility  of similar analysis by districts throughout the country.

    The information pertains to teachers in the fourth through eighth grades whose students took statewide math and English tests in the 2008-2009 school year.

    The department uses the math and English scores to calculate how well a particular teacher's students performed on the tests compared with other demographically similar students.

    The so-called "value-added" approach is supposed to measure how much better students scored on the tests than they would have without their teacher.

    In court papers, the UFT said the value-added formula the department uses is unreliable.

    It said factors that contribute to the instability of the teacher ratings include the small sample size and external influences on student achievement.