Student test scores used to evaluate New York teachers being withheld from the public

December 13, 2012

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Trevor was website administrator for EAG from December 2012 to March 2014.
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By Ashleigh Costello
EAGnews.org

NEW YORK – Student test scores that will be used to evaluate the state’s educators are being withheld from the public.

Thousands of city teachers have found out how well they raised student achievement as measured by state standardized math and English tests, but parents and taxpayers have no right to the information, according to an opinion piece in the NY Daily News.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers passed a new law in June barring the total disclosure of teacher evaluations, much to the delight of the state’s teachers unions.

The effort to limit the release of teacher evaluation data was sparked by a February court decision, which ordered the city to release controversial grades of more than 12,000 city teachers.

Under the adopted plan, parents can only obtain the evaluations of their children’s current teachers.  There is no way for parents to review the ratings of teachers who might be assigned to work with their children in the future.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been highly critical of the plan and vowed to get as much of the teacher evaluation data to the public as possible, while still respecting the new law.

The law also reportedly bars principals from using the scores in staffing decisions.

“Administrators will have the authority to act only as part of an overall evaluation system—which the city Education Department is supposed to be negotiating with the [United Federation of Teachers],” reports the news site.

Cuomo has given school districts until Jan. 17 to submit a negotiated evaluation plan to be approved by state officials. Districts missing the deadline will suffer a 4 percent cut in state aid.

Evaluation systems will place teachers in four tiers:  highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective.

Without being able to see the data, parents have little choice but to trust school officials when it comes to their children’s education, something many feel is unfair.

In August, education officials said 7% of teachers statewide ranked as highly effective, 77% were effective, 10% were developing, and 6% were ineffective.  The NY Daily News warns parents not to trust the numbers.

“It defies belief that fully 84% of teachers are graded effectively or highly effective at a time when so few students ace the math and English tests. Undoubtedly, the state has graded teachers on a very generous curve in order to prevent the unions from further stiffening resistance,” according to the news site.

“Bottom line: The state has gone to extreme lengths to protect the interests of teachers while denying parents critical information as to how well their children are being served.”

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