Monday, March 05, 2012

Teacher Ratings Aired in New York

 As I predicted, the release of value-added data for 18,000 NYC teachers would be BIG news – front-page stories in both the WSJ and NYT today.  Here's Stephanie Banchero of the WSJ:

The release of a trove of data evaluating New York City teachers on their ability to boost student test scores represents a potentially powerful new tool for parents to assess their children's public schools.

Nationally, teachers unions have staunchly opposed releasing such information, and even some supporters of linking teacher evaluations to student-test scores worry the data could be misunderstood or misused.

If school districts across the U.S. were to begin taking similar actions, it could add to pressure on school administrators to improve or to remove their weakest teachers.

I think Michelle Rhee's take is correct – the teacher's OVERALL rating should be released, not just the value-added test data, which is too imprecise:

Michelle Rhee, who pushed through a teacher-evaluation system in Washington, D.C., when she headed the district there, said parents should have access to teacher ratings. But she said the data should be released only if they also included such information as principal observations. The information released by New York doesn't include such observations.

"If we truly want parents to be taking a seminal interest in their kids' education and understand fully what type of education they are getting, then we need to be ready to give them all the information we have," said Ms. Rhee, who is executive director of StudentsFirst, a nonprofit group pushing to overhaul teacher evaluation and pay systems. "You can't say we want parents involved and then limit their access to information."

I also agree with this – rather than releasing it to the general public, the info should ONLY be released to parents, who have a much more compelling reason to know this information:

Linda Serrato, spokeswoman for Parent Revolution, a group that has tried to help parents take control of schools in California, said the group doesn't support posting teacher evaluations online, but does support handing them over to parents. "This is about empowerment of the parent," she said.

In summary, I like the IDEA/PRINCIPLE of what's happened in LA and NYC, but not the precise way it's been implemented.  I think parents have a right to know if their child is in a classroom with an ineffective teacher – and I think requiring this is an EXTREMELY effective tool that will allow parents to pressure the system to reform. 


And related to this, I'm actually sort of happy that the LA and NYC data was released – even though I don't think it would be a good idea for every school district to do this – because the threat that this imperfect data MIGHT be released puts enormous pressure on the unions in every district to agree to a fair, robust evaluation system.



Teacher Ratings Aired in New York


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