UFT Loses Appeal, Teachers Ratings to Be Published

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) has lost their appeal to prevent New York City from releasing performance reports for thousands of teachers.

A state court declined to hear a final appeal from the city’s teachers union to keep the reports private. The reports, which rate teachers against their peers, were created in 2008 under former Chancellor Joel Klein as part of a push to evaluate educators using student test scores, writes Lisa Fleisher at the Wall Street Journal.

To block the release, the UFT has attempted to sue to maintain the privacy of the reports, which use a complex formula to try to isolate each individual teacher’s effect on their students’ performance.

The union argued that using state tests to compute teachers’ scores would be an invasion of teachers’ privacy.

In publishing the scores of about 12,500 educators who teach math or English in fourth through eighth grade, their wide margins of error make them unreliable, say critics.

Officials want to see the data reports used as part of an overall teacher’s performance evaluation. The scores would affect teachers in two ways – it would be easier to fire them if they record two straight bad evaluations, but they could also be in line for permanent raises if they record quality evaluations.

Spokesman for the city’s Department of Education, Matt Mittenthal, said the data would be released “in the coming weeks.”

He said:

“These reports, which include data from almost two years ago, are just one indicator of teacher effectiveness and do not tell the whole story — but the data is useful to principals in their management and support of teachers, especially those at the top and bottom.”

However, Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said the release is “particularly inappropriate” because the city will now use the state’s data analysis in the future.

“The teacher data reports are based on bad data and an unproven methodology with a huge margin of error,” he said.

“They are not an accurate reflection of the work of any teacher.”