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Hands off our evaluations!

Union wins in effort to limit disclosure of teacher ratings

In a victory for teacher privacy across the state, the state Legislature on June 21 passed legislation that restricts the public release of teacher evaluations, showing teachers the professional respect that the city did not.

At the same time, the law preserves parents’ right to see the evaluation of their children’s current teachers, a right they have always had.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the new law will prevent the public rankings of city teachers by the tabloid press that occurred when the city made the Teacher Data Reports public in February while also ensuring parents’ rights.

“I want to thank Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Speaker Sheldon Silver and Majority Leader Dean Skelos for their leadership in working to strike an appropriate balance — ensuring that parents can have information about their children’s teachers, while helping to prevent the kind of vilification of teachers that resulted from Mayor Bloomberg’s insistence on releasing the misleading and inaccurate Teacher Data Reports last year,” Mulgrew said.

The law, crafted by Gov. Cuomo with input from Mulgrew and NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi, directs the state to make school and district evaluation results public but to keep teacher names out of it.

Parents can learn how their own child’s teacher is rated — highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective — and will get a single numerical score for that teacher. But they cannot see the results for other teachers, and the press will not have access to any individual teacher’s score.

The law passed both the Senate and Assembly after rounds of roller-coaster negotiations and a down-to-the-wire ultimatum from the governor.

The law will require school districts across the state to make public detailed evaluation data for schools and districts. But if a teacher could be identified — for example, because the school is very small — then steps will be taken to assure confidentiality.

Before its disastrous release of Teacher Data Reports, New York City had already decided to abandon its own teacher rankings and turn the whole enterprise over to the state. The so-called “value-added analysis” that the city used is not being adopted by the state, which will instead give teachers a score based on their individual students’ growth.

When the new teacher evaluation system is in place, these scores, which will not be made public, will constitute 20 percent of the overall evaluation for ELA and math teachers in grades 4 through 8. In all cases, teacher evaluations will rely primarily on classroom observations using performance rubrics. The new state evaluation system must be approved by individual districts and their teacher unions before it will take effect.

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