Saturday, February 25, 2012


NEW YORK SCHOOLS RELEASE 'VALUE ADDED' TEACHER RANKINGS: The action follows a battle, similar to one in Los Angeles, that pitted the teachers union against news organizations and parents who said the data should be public.

LA Times staff and wire reports |

5:04 PM PST, February 24, 2012 :: New York City's Department of Education on Friday released rankings of thousands of teachers based on student test scores, ending a battle that pitted the teachers union against news organizations and parent groups who argued the public's right to the data outweighed privacy concerns.

"The Department of Education should be ashamed of itself," Michael Mulgrew, president of New York's United Federation of Teachers, said in a statement, accusing officials of using "bad tests, a flawed formula and incorrect data to mislead tens of thousands of parents about their children's teachers."

Critics of the so-called value-added ranking system, which uses test scores to help determine a teacher's effectiveness, said it relied on outdated information and on results of standardized tests that can't be counted on to give a true picture of a child's grasp of a topic.

The value-added system gained national attention in 2010 when the Los Angeles Times used it to come up with rankings for several thousand teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Those rankings, based on seven years of math and English test scores, were published by The Times, the first time such information had been made public.

New York's teachers union went to court in 2010 to try to block rankings from being released in the city. But a judge ruled in January 2011 that public interest outweighed teachers' concerns. "The public has an interest in the job performance of public employees, particularly in the field of education," Judge Cynthia S. Kern wrote. An appellate court upheld the decision.

In an opinion piece published Friday in New York's Daily News, the schools chancellor, Dennis Walcott, noted that the rankings being released were based on test scores from the 2007-08 and 2009-10 school years — too old, he said, to ensure reliability.

"They include results for some teachers who don't even work in our schools anymore," Walcott wrote. "And many teachers' performance may have changed over the last two years. So don't assume that a snapshot from two years ago still holds true today."

The rankings cover about 18,000 English and math teachers and give value-added scores as well as ratings ranging from "high" to "low," based on those scores and other factors. The Department of Education began using the value-added system to evaluate teachers in 2008 but agreed not to release the information to the public.

The rankings cover less than a quarter of the 75,000 teachers in New York's public schools system, the nation's largest.



By Dr. Sean C. Feeney and Dr. Carol C. Burris , (edited/word-butchered by smf from an e-mail)

24 February 2012 -- As you certainly know by now, New York State United Teachers, NY State Education Commissioner King and Governor Cuomo reached a deal on teacher evaluation in New York State. After the deal was reached, a member of NYSUT’s board was quoted as follows: “What’s good is that this is finally resolved, and we can go about doing what we need to do in our locals to get it behind us.” (Newsday, 16 Feb 2012).

What a puzzling reaction to the deal! Nobody should be pleased that a deal that is bad for students and bad for schools is behind us. This deal gives Commissioner King unilateral veto power of locally developed scales, and it ensures that a teachers whose test scores declare them “Ineffective” cannot be categorized as “Effective” no matter how well they do on other parts of the evaluation rubric. Test scores trump all other aspects of a teacher’s performance.

We need to continue to argue our points:

  • The use of scores as an evaluation tool is unreliable --- there are significant margins of error reported by even the most optimistic supporters of using scores to evaluate teachers
  • The use of value added measures are unstable --- studies have shown teachers experience huge changes in their score from year to year
  • The use of scores to evaluate teachers will change the nature of schools for the worse
  • We are not afraid of “rigorous” evaluations; we welcome them! We cannot, however, accept seriously flawed evaluations.

A Brief Reading List

·       For those wondering where New York State is heading, be sure to check out today’s New York Times ( and other city papers as they report the scores for New York City Teachers. The Times almost seems to recognize the danger of what they are doing by publishing the scores, but they go ahead and do it anyhow.

·       For a different perspective on the reporting of the scores, be sure to check out GothamSchools |

·       Diane Ravitch wrote an excellent piece on the New York Review of Books blog:

·       Carol wrote a terrific Washington Post Answer Sheet article that helps explain how flawed the teacher rubric is:

This is Not a Done Deal!

Because it makes changes to It appears that this deal might need the approval of the legislature. As such, there are still steps you can take:

1. Support the NYS Principals’ letter

You are receiving this message because you have already signed your support. What about your family members? Neighbors? Friends? More support means a louder voice.

2. Write to your elected officials | Tell them that the “deal” is hardly a deal. There is far too much uncertainty about the use of these scores to make career decisions.

3. Contact the Governor Let him know that you have been lobbying for students long before he thought of the line and will continue to do so long after he leaves Albany for his next venture.

4. Email the members of the Board of Regents Tell them to stop letting politics dictate education policy. Let’s protect education in New York State.

5. Talk to your school’s parent organization

Parents need to recognize that this is not a “fight” between State Ed and Teachers. This will impact their children and their schools. If they wait too long to get involved, it will be too late!

SUPPORT THE NEW YORK STATE PRINCIPALS' OPEN LETTER Regarding the NYS APPR Legislation | We thank you for your support and would like to provide you with an update on activities of the past few weeks. As always, the most recent version of the APPR Position paper (with all signatures) is available at: Given that the paper with signatures is over 117 pages long, we have also created a separate link for the four-page paper alone.

As of this week, over 1380 New York State principals have signed the letter: that's over 30% of all principals in NYS! We have over 5800 total supporters right now. Be sure to check out our website for the most current information.

Thank you for your courage to stand up for our students and schools.

- Sean and Carol

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