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New York City delays releasing controversial teacher ratings

The New York City school system agreed Thursday to delay releasing teacher effectiveness ratings based on student test scores until after a court hearing in late November.

The nation's largest school district announced plans earlier this week to give several media groups "value-added" scores and other data for nearly 12,000 teachers. The teachers union filed a lawsuit to stop the action Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court.

The New York City Department of Education has calculated value-added scores for many of its instructors since 2008, but had agreed to try to keep them private under an agreement with the United Federation of Teachers, which represents New York's instructors.

Value-added analysis uses a student's past performance on standardized tests to estimate a teacher's effectiveness in raising scores.

The Los Angeles Times published a series of stories in August based on a value-added analysis of seven years of test scores obtained from the Los Angeles Unified School District using the state Public Records Act. Several New York media organizations filed requests for city schools' value-added results for individual teachers shortly after The Times began publishing its series.

New York City education officials said they could find no exemption in state law to keep the scores private and planned to release the scores to the groups Friday. 

The department agreed with a judge's request to delay releasing the information until after a hearing Nov. 24. A spokeswoman said the department still believes it is obligated to release the data. 

-- Jason Song

Comments () | Archives (7)

I sympathize with teachers and unions (very imperfect as they are).
But I have yet to hear a really strong rebuttal from the teachers on why this measurement score is a bad idea. I've heard "It's flawed", but why is it flawed?


First off, thanks for asking. It would be nice if Howard Blume and the Jasons showed your inquisitiveness but their much more interested in headlines than truth, so again, thanks.

The basis for the score is a standardized test where the students have, quite literally, no attachment to the results. A high score on the CST will not help or hinder the student's academic standing, nor will it assist or interfere with their efforts to gain college admittance. Further, using a test as a measure of teacher effectiveness ignores other aspects of a student's education--such as the grades they get, the other tests they take, the papers they write, etc. In short, the Times, in their infinite wisdom, has decided to measure teacher effectiveness based on one controversial test. As to the way the Times put together the data, you can check other threads for that one. The point that I would stress--and a point that Howard Blume and the Jason's can't seem to get because they are far more interested in headlines than actual reporting--is that the test in and of itself is a poor tool for measuring a teacher's overall effectiveness. They'll tell you that's not what their doing... while writing headlines like "How effective is your child's teacher?" Hope that helps and thanks for asking.

It is flawed because there is so much transiency in public schools and so many different factors that effect the classroom from year to year. In addition, value added tends to focus on multiple choice test scores which are limited in their information instead of focusing on writing, speaking and other skills that are much more important to a student's future.

In addition to all of that, the standards at some levels are far too numerous, forcing teachers to "cover" material superficially rather than deeply. I covered my US History standards deeply and as a result, covered a little over half of them. But my students benefited from more writing instruction, trials and other simulations and having to present a lesson to the class. All of these "tests" gave me far more information and insight into how well students could understand and articulate historical ideas than a multiple choice test. For example, one of my students played a historical figure in a debate and I found out she was an excellent debater but needed help with her writing. If I only focused on multiple choice tests, I never would have discovered those things about her. I did give some multiple choice tests and quizzes and if students did not know the answers, I clarified some of the material and had them look it up to find the correct answers. This way they learn how to find information.

I'm sure my value added scores in 11th grade US History would be low, however, my students will have gained many skills they would not have otherwise obtained. For all of these reasons, value added should never be used but multiple and diverse assessments should be used.

Just an editorial question: Why did you choose the wording, "to keep them PRIVATE," and "to keep the scores PRIVATE," instead of the wording, "to keep them secret," and "to keep the scores secret?"

I'm just asking.

"Secret" would be an improper word because these involve flawed data in which students have no stake. They don't need these tests for any reason - it doesn't affect them, therefore judging teachers by them and then making them public is ethically wrong. I have yet to see a test score for a firefighter or police officer or a DWP worker. I have yet to see police officers linked to decreases or increases in crime. That's because it is not fair. I have yet to see them labeled "ineffective" based on any data. And after the screw up that was the Station Fire, firefighters were offered free meals at many restaurants in the area even though the fire was completely mismanaged and some direct orders were violated. Meanwhile, teachers are vilified.

If you don't think unions are powerful, read this story.

bda616 and LAUSD teacher make very valid points about the "value added" process.

However I would like to clarify the info LAUSD teacher gave about the Station Fire. The Los Angeles County and City fire departments offered mutual aid within five minutes of the initial response to the fire. This included both air and ground support. It was declined. Please do not blame them for the mismanagement. The herculean efforts by local fire departments prevented even greater tragedy.

Hopefully the hearing that was held last month will help prevent this from happening in the future. More info here: http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=7719808


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