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DOE discontinues controversial Teacher Data Reports
by Maisie McAdoo | September 22, 2011 New York Teacher issue
New York City’s Teacher Data Reports will be going the way of the dodo bird, following a Department of Education announcement on Sept. 15. The DOE said it would no longer produce the reports and instead turn that part of the teacher evaluation process over to the state. For many teachers, the news will be a welcome respite from an increasingly bitter controversy.
“I thank the chancellor for a very constructive and solid decision,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said. “Teachers really fear these reports because they are not accurate or fair.”
In announcing the decision, DOE officials indicated that since the city’s value-added assessment system is not being adopted by the state, pursuing it would be a waste of time and money.
The UFT had sued to prevent the release of the reports, which evaluate and rank teachers based on their students’ test scores, but the union lost the case at the Appellate Division level over the summer. With just one or two cards left for the UFT to play — the union is seeking permission to re-appeal — the experimental “value-added” scores for some 12,000 ELA and math teachers in 4th through 8th grades could be handed over to the media, with names attached.
When Joel Klein was still chancellor, five city newspapers and broadcast media demanded the 2008-09 reports under the Freedom of Information Act. Teachers, principals, parents and researchers, as well as the UFT, disputed their release. The earlier reports could still go to the media if the final appeals are unsuccessful.
In a late August interview with The New York Times, Chancellor Dennis Walcott had hinted that he did not think the reports should be handed over to the press.
Walcott’s decision to end the program gives the disputed reports even less legitimacy.
“This will make a major dent in the damage these reports would do if they are released,” Mulgrew said.
The State Education Department has contracted with another vendor to produce similar reports, using a “growth” model which is less complex than the value-added version. They will be part of a new statewide teacher evaluation system that is under development, in which classroom observation by trained evaluators will account for the majority of a teacher’s evaluation.
The DOE’s chief academic officer, Shael Polakow-Suransky, told The New York Times that growth scores were “just one” of multiple measures that the city will use to assess teachers, and that there was no need to duplicate what the state program will do.