Walcott: NYC Value-added Ratings Don’t Tell Full Story

New York Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott believes that while value-added data will help determine teacher effectiveness, a wide range of factors must be considered to achieve a fuller picture of performance.

This week saw the publication of the 2007-08 through 2009-10 Teacher Data Reports of teachers in grades four through eight in New York. This comes after public pressure to release the documents under the Freedom of Information Law.

While the Department of Education must publish the data, Dennis Walcott’s editorial in New York Daily News explains:

“The data is now two years old, and it would be irresponsible for anyone to use this information to render judgments about individual teachers. Teacher Data Reports were created primarily as a tool to help teachers improve, and not to be used in isolation.

“I’m deeply concerned that some of our hardworking teachers might be denigrated in the media based on this information. That would be inexcusable. Ultimately, each news organization will make its own choices about how to proceed, and this may result in teacher names appearing in the paper or on media websites.

“Although we can’t control how reporters use this information, we will work hard to make sure parents and the public understand how to interpret the Teacher Data Reports.”

Walcott believes that the Teacher Data Reports provide one “value-added” perspective that predicts a teacher’s future success “better than any other technique”. But Walcott doesn’t think the value-added data or the results of a classroom observation could adequately judge a teacher’s overall success in the classroom.

Walcott explains that the new evaluation system will include value-added analysis that will count for 20% of a teacher’s rating and will also include classroom observations and other measures to ensure the data provides have the most complete picture possible of teachers’ success with their students.

He said:

“I believe New York City has one of the strongest teaching forces in the country. As long as I’m chancellor, I will do everything I can to help our teachers reach their full potential — so that our students can reach theirs.

“And I will always treat our teachers with the professional respect they deserve. I hope members of the media will do the same today.”