NY appeals court: Public should see teacher ratings

report cardIn a decision watched by educators nationwide, a New York appeals court ruled Thursday that teacher performance ratings can be released to the public.

The teachers union had challenged the New York school system’s plan to release the ratings, which categorize teachers  as “high,” “above average,” “average,” “below average” or “low” based on how students fared on the state tests compared to peers. The district has compiled the scores for several years but has not used them in evaluations or released them to parents.

In the unanimous ruling, the four-judge appeals panel reaffirmed an earlier legal decision that the data can be made public, contending,  “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 teachers’ union argued that the data is flawed and that the resulting negative labels and sensationalized news stories — “The 10 worst teachers in the Bronx” — could haunt teachers forever.

This case has implications for Georgia where Race to the Top participating systems are working to create evaluations that consider student performance in grading teacher performance.

In a column in the New York Daily News, education researcher Rick Hess decried the ruling. Here is an excerpt of his op-ed:

Student achievement should be incorporated into teacher evaluation and compensation, and transparency is a vital tool for recognizing excellence and shaming mediocrity. But a public data release is the wrong way to get there.

First, at the most technical level, there are enormous questions about the “right” way to construct a value-added model, and teacher evaluations can move markedly depending on the decisions that are made. Second, in the substantial number of cases where students receive considerable pull-out instruction – or work, for instance, with a designated reading instructor – value-added calculations aren’t going to effectively isolate the impact of a particular classroom teacher.

Third, there’s a profound failure to recognize the difference between responsible management and this sort of public transparency. It’s fair for taxpayers to want to know exactly how their money is spent and – and to expect leaders to report on organizational performance. It typically doesn’t make sense, however, for the public to get the numbers of citations each cop in the NYPD issues or all the performance reviews a National Guardsman was given by his commanding officer.

Why? Because we recognize that these data are imperfect, limited measures and that using them sensibly requires judgment. Sensible judgment becomes much more difficult when decisions are made in the glare of the media spotlight.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog


151 comments Add your comment

Public Schools are welfare agencies

August 29th, 2011
3:33 pm

Who in their right mind would want to become a teacher now? Why can’t we rate parents and publicize their effectiveness? The government is too involved in education where it does not concern them. However, the government will not concern itself with improving teachers’ salaries and working conditions. Once again, teachers are being held responsible for the inadequacies of parents and guardians. The problem is some minority parents are not held accountable for raising their own children, so the government leaves the parenting to teachers. At this rate, public education will be a thing of the past, and only the talented tenth will have an opportunity to pursue a free education. Blame it all on the apathetic parents and people who want something for nothing.

Teacher 1

August 29th, 2011
3:53 pm

Aren’t teachers taxpayers? Don’t they have the right to know how people who are receiving public assistance spend their dollars that are contributed by taxpaying teachers? Just asking…

November 6, 2012

August 29th, 2011
3:58 pm

I’m not sure this is such a good idea, or should I say ruling. A teacher could be scarred for life for something she/he has no control over. I can see why the unions wouldn’t want it made public

oldtimer

August 29th, 2011
4:02 pm

Both of the above posts are true….so much happens in a classroom that is beyond teacher control. My students always did very well on the ITBS tests we gave twice a year, but they came to me ready to learn the material and when I called someone to work with a student after school, parents were agreeable till the last 5 years I taught. Then they yelled at me….like it was my fault Sam needed more help with reading or was missing too many homework assignments. I am glad I had many many good years.

Elaine

August 29th, 2011
4:24 pm

Good luck ever getting anyone to work as a teacher.

Ernest

August 29th, 2011
4:27 pm

It will be interesting to see what data is also provided regarding the students and parents, so that one can better understand the context of the rating. I know most of this is protected under the Privacy Act but will they share data such as race, whether they are special needs or have an IEP, # of referrals, # of calls to parent, # of return calls by parents, # of conferences with parents, etc. I’d want this infomation also shared if I was a teacher.

Lori

August 29th, 2011
4:37 pm

This is nuts….They are holding teachers accountable for the students past failures. For example, a fifth grade teacher should not be held accountable for a child that has come to him/her with 4+ years of bad performance and expect to be able to catch that child up in one year. They need to be able to measure a child’s progress with a specific teacher, from the beginning to the end of the year, rather than a black and white pass or fail line.

Teacher 1

August 29th, 2011
4:41 pm

The government thinks that TEACHERS are the the parents. Some parents think that teachers are the parents. That is why they do not purchase supplies. They have the nerve to say that public schools should provide supplies. We feed them, provide medical care, and counseling. Next, dormitories will be built on the campuses to ensure that all students live in a safe environment. It appears as if the non-working (not those who have been gainfully employed for years and recently laid off) get all the breaks. Maybe I should quit my job and apply for government assistance. At least I don’t have to worry about anything,,, not even raising my own children. Oh… I forgot…the judicial system will raise them for me…but they will still get free food, clothing, shelter, medical care, cable television….

HS Public Teacher

August 29th, 2011
4:53 pm

Are police evaluations, fire fighter evaluations, military evaluations also going to be made public?

Will there be a “Top 10 worst fire fighters in the Bronx” article written as well? Or, how about an article titled, “Top

Heaven help teachers. And, heaven help the students that are getting really messed up due to this insane politics.

Atlanta mom

August 29th, 2011
4:54 pm

Who would work in any job where your evaluation was made public?
May I see my local police officer’s evaluation because surely “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.”

redweather

August 29th, 2011
5:21 pm

What a ruling. As a few of you have already noted, this is not likely to improve the competency of teachers. And why they should be held accountable in this public way when police and other government employees are not is difficult to understand.

catlady

August 29th, 2011
5:25 pm

Let’s also post for the public the ratings on judges. Things like their overturn rate, their rate of complaints on bias, etc. Also ratings from criminals and their lawyers. Let’s make their jobs dependant on this information.

Eric

August 29th, 2011
5:32 pm

While we’re at it . . . since corporations run our county, why not print their employee performance results too! Let’s report on each other ad nauseum!

unreal

August 29th, 2011
5:32 pm

All public employees ratings should be made public. Why is the country so anti-teacher? Again, why aren’t poor parents held responsible for their childrens’ failures? Teachers cannot do it all. Did integration and illegal immigration cause this problem? Teachers were not lambasted like they are today.

Active in Cherokee

August 29th, 2011
5:35 pm

Leaving the argument of whether sharing this data is right or wrong aside – what data is published, how the data was gathered, what methods of analysis are used, and what explanations of interpreting the data are given should be of concern. It’s sad but I think the teachers knew this ruling was coming. Personally, when I don’t know how to interpret given data for myself I look directly at the bottom line – in this case that would be the final teacher rating. One of the huge problems of doing this is test scores from an individual teacher can often be too small of a sample to get a realistic and/or consistent reading. A teacher not changing his/her methods could be on the bottom one year and then shoot up to the top the following year simply because of what students were randomly placed in their seats. A more realistic rating would come with a composite average over the span of a teacher’s career – though unfortunately this retrospective view is not helpful with the new performance based pay scales (or ‘teacher report cards’) It would however be wonderful data for educational research to actually do some improvement of pedagogy.

I feel for teachers and am sorry the politicians want data so desperately they will settle for flawed data…..and then have the audacity to share it with the public – 99% of which have no knowledge in how to read/interpret data and will simply look at an inaccurate bottom line. Visit the schools and get involved- it’s obvious who the good/bad teachers are.

Beck

August 29th, 2011
5:36 pm

I’d be fine with having my evaluations made public.

As to whether or not people will still enter into the profession, several of my students (9th and 10th graders) stated that they wanted to when we did introductions last week. People don’t go into teaching for the money, fame, summer “vacation,” or the hassle people outside education (and some other educators, for that matter) give us. We do it because we love the subject matter, we want to help others and it’s a way to make a difference in the world.

Active in Cherokee

August 29th, 2011
5:38 pm

@ catlady – that would change things around……bet this ‘ruling’ would be overturned if that ever came to the table!

Elizabeth

August 29th, 2011
5:48 pm

My evaluation rating is between me, my evaluator, and my school system. Any attempt to make it otherwise without including ALL public employees and private employees will result in a lawsuit. And not because I am afraid of what the evaluation will say. Because this is information is private by state law and the laws of privacy that I am entitled to with my medical and insurance records.The teacher witch hunt HAS to stop, and for me this is where it will stop. If this is changed, you will not be able to find warm bodies to babysit classrooms.

Janet

August 29th, 2011
6:04 pm

WOW… I don’t even know what to say… I feel SO BAD for teachers. I agree with Elizabeth. This is nothing but a teacher witch hunt.

V for Vendetta

August 29th, 2011
6:14 pm

Lies, damn lies, and statistics. I agree with all of the previous posts. It is asinine to assume that you can even remotely determine teacher effectiveness based on test scores. To publish this data as if it has some sort of evaluative merit in the public domain is beyond asinine: it is manipulative and disingenuous. The political scapegoat that is education will be in free fall if this moronic ruling sets a precedent nationwide.

The bottom line is that teachers do the best they can with what they have. Often times what they have is an overcrowded classroom, outdated materials, and students who are, at best, apathetic–at worst, combative and confrontational. Some of these students come from deplorable background where education ranks somewhere behind picking up after yourself in terms of importance. Teachers are expected to somehow overcome the students’ backgrounds, years of educational neglect, and far below grade level performance. In one year.

This decision ranks equally with No Child Left Behind as one of the worst blows education has received in recent years–especially if it goes nationwide. The public education system desperately needs a victory, a profession-changing positive push that focuses on what is best for students and treats teachers as if they are deserving of respect and admiration. In the meantime, those of us who still enjoy our jobs will continue to push forward hoping for that day.

irisheyes

August 29th, 2011
6:19 pm

Will the demographic data of the students also be published? Last year, I had a group of average to above-average students. They all did very well on their standardized assessments. This year, almost half of my students are ESOL students. I can put in even more effort, and they may not do as well, simply because they aren’t as familiar with English. Am I a worse teacher now than I was a year ago? What happens next year if I happen to get the gifted students?

HS Math Teacher

August 29th, 2011
6:26 pm

I should have been a gym teacher (with NOVA or Argosy Ed. Specialist Diploma on the gym office wall). What was I thinking?

Should've...

August 29th, 2011
6:52 pm

Gone to business school. Seriously, this is it for me. I have had it with the madness, micromanaging, and blame.

catlady

August 29th, 2011
7:26 pm

Well, since parents provide the raw materials, we should publish ratings on them. And ratings on the legislators (federal and state) and Board members (state and local) and bureaucrats who decide what teachers will do, when, and how often.

Does anyone else want to join in the published ratings game? But first, the judges who approved this!

open record

August 29th, 2011
7:42 pm

This case shows the risk that any data collected by any public institution may bereleased to thw public BECAUSE they are public institution. Schools should be careful what data to collect.

The Devil You Say

August 29th, 2011
7:46 pm

People have no idea how silly this idea is. One must remember that teacher ‘ratings’ are completely subjective in some areas and in others based on test scores of students. The latter is a problem because these ratings are skewed by the quality of the students. Imagine a teacher from Pope High School being compared to one from North Clayton based on students’ scores. What a joke. We need to just go back to local control!!!!!!!

unjust

August 29th, 2011
8:20 pm

This teacher bashing is getting ridiculous. As a country, we don’t need teacher evaluations published, charter schools, NCLB, or Race to the Top. All of these things are just legislation passed to make the legislator of the moment look like he is doing something. The Devil You Say has it right – local control.

Curious One

August 29th, 2011
8:28 pm

Outrageous and totally problem filled solution that will only make matters much worst !

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

August 29th, 2011
8:39 pm

In the interest of transparency and accountability in government, let’s publish evaluations of all public employees. After all, the work of public employees is public business.

teacher&mom

August 29th, 2011
8:54 pm

Read this article from the NY Times and ask yourself if New York has any business publishing teacher ratings.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/27/nyregion/27teachers.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

One has to wonder what are the chances of a “misranked” teacher winning a lawsuit?

Kathy II

August 29th, 2011
9:05 pm

I would like to know the pass/fail rate of a teacher…why not? I also think we need to remember that this provision is probably for Title I schools…because Non Title I schools do NOT receive any “extra” federal funding for schools that have at least a 35% free or reduced lunch rate. Again, an article that does NOT distinguish between the two school systems: the Title I and Non Title I schools.
As it is now parents can ask the LBOE if a teacher is highly qualified….so my question becomes. If the teachers are highly qualified to “be in the classroomj”….would it even matter if we know the pass fail rate? Teachers and school personnel WILL Always point in one direction when a child can’t even make a minimum passing score on a high stakes test….The PARENT is always to blame, so what difference does it make if we know any teacher’s pass/fail rate? So, two things: 1. This is about Title I schools…..2. Parents will be blamed in the end, and rightfully so. Even when parents are gullible, naive, ignorant, disabled, or even too trusting. It is OUR own fault when our children do NOT get the education outcome we expected. THe children belong to the parents , NOT any school system….I’m just hoping we get universal vouchers….because If and when I’m blamed for things, I’d like to know that I MADE the decision to put my child under such conditions.

Garry Owen

August 29th, 2011
9:12 pm

Thank goodness I started teaching in the late 60’s. I am now retired. Students and parents must be held accountable. In a classroom the teacher has to put up with (1) the trouble maker (2) the child whose parents are going through a divorce (3) a child who came to school with out breakfast and improperly dressed for cold weather (4) and students that learn at different rates and learn in different ways. Now, if you can balance all this plus all the paper work now required of teachers go right ahead and try your hand. You better be glad good teachers are still willing to work in public schools!

Jerry Eads

August 29th, 2011
9:14 pm

Relative to places like California, New York and Wisconsin, Georgia is relatively sane (a starkly amazing concept). These teacher ratings based on grossly incompetently developed tests are no better than darts blindfolded; virtually random shots in the dark. What the research shows over and over and over – and over and over again is that the BEST leave first, because they can. No matter how much they love teaching kids, it’s clear that we hate them for it. Implemet stupid, psychotic, lock step mindless policy and the ones you REALLY want teaching your kids will get out to do other things, leaving the least able. And the new ones you blindly fantasize will replace the “bad” teachers are smart enough to find other careers. Welcome to Rome. Georgia does in fact have lower test scores than virtually anywhere else in the country (by several different measures), which in fact is a function of poverty and its effects (not schooling), but New York and others are doing an absolutely fabulous job of working toward dead last. All we have to do, as we have for decades, is do nothing except have governors steal money from the schools to pay for their pet (and self-serving get rich quick personally) projects, and we could be midpack by doing absolutely nothing. Once more, welcome to Rome, and I don’t mean Rome Georgia.

Kathy II

August 29th, 2011
9:35 pm

@JerryEads: As LONG as one of the Federal Government’s education processes includes: “the more poor and uneducated populations a school district produces for the community….then the MORE Title I monies these “At Risk” schools and community receives. BTW: the Title I grant monies is NON REGULATED, even better to maintain the status quo. This is NOT about educating children or anyone else, this is ABOUT M-O-N-E-Y….federal welfare dollars for the poor. The GDOE has an entire dept. dedicated to oversee Title I programs that get paid right off the top. Then the Federal Title I monies trickles down to ALL the Title I administrators at the local level….If it were NOT for the Federal Title I dollars, where in the world would GEORGIA generate the almost 1/2 BILLION dollars for education it receives from the Federal Governmnet….Title I schools and IDEA programs even got a boost from the Amercian Reinvestment and Recovery Act…aka, stimulus money…NOTHING extra for the schools or teachers where over 35% of the parents pays a full price for school lunch.

Kathy II

August 29th, 2011
9:58 pm

According to the Georgia Constitution public education is paid for…..with tax dollars. Additionally, the constitution is specific, taxes that would provide an adequate education. Adequate is subjective.
THen Georgia’s compulsory school age? Six year olds to 16 years old. Ten years of an adequate pAublic education is all that is required. As long as the Georgia School Board and Superintendent’s Associations put parents and retired car salesmen in the same EXTERNAL stakeholders in the education process then parents MUST provide any extras for their child to exceed the “adequate” mark. What better way to close the achievement gap than for schools to “cap” learning for the better performing students while focusing on the lower performing stratas…bring the lower strata up, limit mobility of the average or above average students..and walluh, you have socialized education…everyone performing at the lowest z-score in Georgia education.

Active in Cherokee

August 29th, 2011
10:06 pm

@Jerry Eads – as always, thank you for sharing your thoughts on the testing policies. Hearing from someone with years of experience in the field is wonderful to see on a blog generally full of quassi or un-informed opinions.

Kathy II

August 29th, 2011
10:07 pm

for all of you who want to blame parents:
“The culture and climate of schools and school districts provide a sense of meaning for those internal members of the organizations as well as those external to the organization (Deal and Peterson, 1999). Groups that are considered internal members include school board members, district- and school-level administrators, faculty, staff, and students.

External stakeholders include parents, community leaders, the business community, civic organizations, the faith-based community, local, state, and federal elected officials, government and social agencies, and retirees.”

Kathy II

August 29th, 2011
10:30 pm

Any contract between a person under the age of 18 is NOT enforceble. Therefore, for the GSBA and Superintendent Association to view minors as internal stakeholders is for esthetics only.
The KIDS belong to their parents, so why do you suppose parents are on the OUTSIDE, excluded from the primary stakeholder group?
So everyone WILL blame parents for everything, EVEN if we are excluded from any decision making process and the public will blindly accept that parents are nothing but a bunch of low lifes seeking FREE rides and inflated grades for our hideous children….just as many of you have stated or implied.

d

August 29th, 2011
10:32 pm

I wish I could post a picture here, but I’ll have to post a link instead. It speaks volumes to the problem we face as teachers every day but those who couldn’t do my job seem to forget. Those who can, teach. Those who can’t pass laws about teaching.

http://yubanet.com/uploads/3/meritpay.jpg

Paulo977

August 29th, 2011
10:38 pm

HS Public Teacher

August 29th, 2011
4:53 pm
Are police evaluations, fire fighter evaluations, military evaluations also going to be made public?

We have lost it ….if we are not totally a prison system yet, we are surely on the way there!!!

Kathy II

August 29th, 2011
10:44 pm

I’d like to remind folks….before NCLB was passed in 2001 we had many many teachers teaching “out of field”. Then like everything else, we had some transition time and folks getting special provisions to be in the classroom…in fact TODAY, in 2011, we still do not have 100% highly qualified teachers in the classroom. It has only been ten years that teachers had to be adequately educated in a specific field like Math, Language Arts, Social Studies, or Science…to actually teach the subject. Teachers teaching out of field for DECADES …..is that the ignorant parent’s fault too?

Sure

August 29th, 2011
10:51 pm

Why just focus on teachers? I want to see doctor evaluations and success/failure rates. I want to see lawyer success rates. I want to see mechanic success rates. And all of this before I committ. I don’t want to spend money or wait to find out. To heck with what their trade organanizations say I want it ALL now and on the web so I can instantly choose.
Can you imagine where this would end up? Oh geeezz.
Lay off teachers already!

Kathy II

August 29th, 2011
11:02 pm

Look for the “Joint Commission on the Accredidation of Healthcare Organizations to find out about medical outcomes. The Better Business bureau is a good place to look or start when looking for a good mechanic. Lawyer? Well, according to a friend who works for a lawyer, MOST who deviate from the law find out who is good through the “grapevine”… So, how do we objectively know a good teacher?

Kathy II

August 29th, 2011
11:32 pm

BTW: The Local Board of Education, principals, and teachers all know the pass/failure rate of their classroom. Got that information from a teacher….the ONLY group that does NOT know? The parents and the community.
Over many years of observation I noticed a trend….all the teachers kids and the “honor roll kids” (thanks to publications of honor rolls in the media, awards day, etc) were grouped and placed in one teacher’s classroom. Now, who better to know which teachers were the MOST successsful? Other teachers…..

Ole Guy

August 29th, 2011
11:52 pm

We have “discussed” many odd dynamics within the educational community; initiatives such as this recent decision can only highlight the slippery slope upon which education…and a few generations…are sure to crash n’burn. While each one of these issues receives in-depth analyses, one cannot help but ponder just where it’s all supposed to lead. We can agree/disagree, call each other names, and issue astounding statements, often bordering on the mystical. The bottom line, as I see it:

THESE PEOPLE ARE NUTS! The educational profession is, most-certainly, the only profession managed and directed by non-educational folks; IT’S GOT TO STOP! It’s all-too apparent that those who pass such edicts do so, NOT with the betterment of education as the primary goal, but rather political featherbeding. After all, no one can/dare argue against “Mom, the Flag, and Apple Pie” issues; education has certainly become such an issue. Civic “leaders”, at both national and state levels view any title, preceded by EDUCATION as a political feather in the career cap, ie “the education president”, the education governor…anyone whose political claim to fame includes educational initiatives is deemed (correctly or not) a rousing success. Meanwhile, we, the “consuming” public (kids, parents, and ultimately, a citizenry dependent on an EDUCATED youth) must accept these foolish edicts…OR MUST WE?

This is leading back to my broken record; educators…and those remotely concerned with the state of education…had better TAKE COMMAND of the educational house. Those who have introduced “flypaper initiatives” (NCLB, teacher “ratings”, etc, ad nauseum) have obviously created avenues of guaranteed failure; as long as the educational community insists on remaining within the “kill zone” of aimless political directives, WE ALL LOSE!

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

August 30th, 2011
12:54 am

Let’s help John Barge and his team at GDOE straighten out our public education mess before it straightens us out.

Am incredulous that our public can’t relate our paucity of highly-paying, high-tech jobs in most of our smaller cities, towns and rural areas to the paucity of good schools and school systems in these locales.

Committed to Education

August 30th, 2011
1:04 am

I believe it is a great idea……. Thank you, everyone knows who the sorry teachers are and no one wants their children in those classes. Value added is the way to go, if you can’t add any value – then GO!

Watchful Eyes in Barrow

August 30th, 2011
3:32 am

Teachers are not just the problem. The supervisors are worse. My neighbors kids moved from an excellent school system in NY…..the kids were in the top 10% of their respective classes? And then here in GA., where we rank the lowest in SAT scores, the princpals felt these kids should be kept behind one grade….Nuts….just nuts……

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

August 30th, 2011
3:59 am

WEB,

“Stupid is as stupid does.”

d

August 30th, 2011
5:21 am

Committed to Education – you talk like children are inanimate products to have value added to…. it just doesn’t work like that in the real world.