The Grading Teachers Project: Share Your Thoughts

| May 15, 2012 6:10 AM

There are approximately 700 school districts in New York State and every one of them needs to have a system of evaluating teacher performance in place by January 2013. Without an evaluation system, federal Race to the Top grant money for the state is no longer assured. But just how to evaluate teachers is a contentious issue, and everyone has an opinion.

In New York City, a small piece of data collected by the Department of Education for internal purposes was made public in February.  The data was a ranking for English and math teachers derived from a complex, “value-added” formula based on students’ results on state standardized tests. This formula intended to track how a student was expected to perform and how the student did perform on the state tests, and how a teacher contributed to the result. The teacher data reports were published in major newspapers like The New York Times and the New York Post, among others, after the media outlets filed a Freedom of Information request with the Department of Education.

MetroFocus asked New York City teachers what they thought about the public release of the teacher rankings, and how the release affected them. Some of the opinions will be shared on the “MetroFocus: Education Innovation” episode that airs on WLIW21 on May 15, NJTV on May 16 and THIRTEEN on May 17, and more are available on our interactive map, below.

Click on the apples to see what city teachers are saying, and then let us know what you think. Anyone with an opinion is invited to share comments. If you’re a parent, teacher, administrator or student, please be sure and tell us with which school you are affiliated.Call and share your thoughts at 212-560-6868


Leave a note in the comments section with the name of your city neighborhood or town.

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Having Problems with the map or videos? View Evaluating Teachers in a larger map.

It was back in 2008 when New York City first began using students’ standardized test scores to rate the quality of public school teachers. The reports were intended to be guides for teachers to use to improve their teaching, and were not to be made public or used to influence performance evaluations, pay or tenure. New York City is only the second city in the country where teachers’ names and ratings have been publicized. The first was Los Angeles.

The teacher data reports have been condemned by many, including high-ranking education officials, but are still a key factor in how teacher’s will be rated across the state.

In February, state education officials announced a deal on teacher evaluations that settled a months-long impasse between education officials and the state teachers union. The deal secured nearly $1 billion in federal Race to the Top funds that were contingent on a statewide teacher evaluation system. New York is one of 19 states that received the grants. In January, the federal Education Department warned New York that it could lose its share of the money if it did not comply.

According to the terms of the state deal, 40 percent of a teacher’s annual review will be based on student performance on standardized test scores.

Twenty percent of the total 40 percent must be based on how a student improves on state test scores, and the remaining 20 percent can be based on scores on tests developed by an individual school district, or a third party, pending state approval. The remaining 60 percent of a teacher’s score will come from direct observation of the teacher, as reported by students, peers, parents and independent evaluators. What will play out across the state has yet to be seen.

So while everyone agrees teacher’s need to be evaluated, just who gets to see the information is still being debated — in Albany and City Hall and in schools and living rooms across the state.

See “MetroFocus: Education Innovation” for more videos and articles about education in the metropolitan region.

“MetroFocus: Education Innovation” premieres on May 15 at 10:30 p.m. on WLIW21; May 16 at 10:30 p.m. on NJTV; and May 17 at 8:30 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

  • Pr7755

    Please be sure and ask Mr. Walcott why he and the Panel for Educational Policy run sham meetings in NYC communities and are absolutely, determinedly tone deaf to the angry and repeated testimony of parents, students, teachers, community members about how badly our grand mayor is “running” the NYC school system and why they are so willing to be diametrically opposed to the constituents of the community they supuposedly serve? Why is it not made unambigously clear in the media that this is a grab for education monies that will wind up in the pockets of the already-wealthy corporate and Wall Street interests in the name of privatizing public education (i.e Charter schools). Ask why former Chancellor Klein now works for Rupert Murdoch’s organization with the clear mandate to sell hundreds of millions of dollars of educational “technology” to the school system he betrayed and undermined for so many years. Will anyone in mainstream media make clear why the assault on educators, children and working poor parents is so pervasive nowadays?

  • Dave Kanegis

    Teacher evaluations would be wonderful if they could be designed in the same manner in which you create a direct marketing test utilizing a control and controlling all variable data. Unfortunately, this is impossible.

    Yes, teachers should be held accountable for the quality of education they offer. However, true academic leadership and effectiveness starts at the top.

    It is the responsibility of the administration to work together with teachers, parents and the community to determine how best to educate and empower our children.

    Rather than play the blame game, why not look at all the innovation around the country. Let’s look at school systems with similar demographics and see what they are trying. Let’s evaluate what’s working and what is not.

    The big surprise will be that it doesn’t always take more money to improve education.  Once certain factors are identified, then the city, the school board and all other responsible and interested parties can evaluate budgets and look at ways to redistribute moneys that already exist.

    Dave Kanegis
    Former Educator and Certified Coach

  • Allypenny

    I come from a family full of teachers and do not understand why teachers are so afraid to be evaluated. As soon as you enter college, professors are evaluated as well as the school site. In the workforce, in order to get promotions one is evaluated. Why should teachers and principals be exempt from this process?

    • Lo Troeller

       The question is who evaluates based on what? What about teachers that get an unsatisfactory rating because/ although they do exactly what their principal wants them to do, but it does not work?

  • Anonymousposter74

    I work in healthcare and when comparing hospitals, we not only look at indicators like mortality, compliance with guidelines and best practices, etc BUT numbers are adjusted for risk, severity and case-mix.  To use test scores as an indicator, without any type of adjustment  on the learners themselves, it’s not a fair evaluation.  If I’m a teacher in a class where half my kids spend a quarter of the school year or more in their home country, and then come back to take and fail a test, I shouldn’t be penalized yet under current thinking, I’m a failure. THen you add the subjective evaluation added by a principal or administrator — there is just much too much room for bias and abuse.  At my child’s school, a previous principal gave a U rating to any teacher who disagreed with his positions.  one of these teachers was highly ranked for both english and math based on the public data but was ultimately asked to leave our school.   Finally, unless all public employees are going to have their data made publicly available, teachers should not be singled out.    I’m a parent in Manhattan affiliated with a public elementary school in northern manhattan.

  • Crystal Harris

    I’m not a parent but I can remember back when I was a high school student that the Regents Classes we had where terrible boring becuase you really weren’t learning. You where only taught how to pass a test. Not why the answered is B or how this relations to you in the real world, but that B is the answer and you had to remember that. In this day in age we need to get kids exited about learning.  I think that we put to heavy burren on the Teachers, we fail to look at the big picture. Teachers are only a part of why some students are failing, the other part falls on the Parents, the District, the students and us voters as well. We all must take part in making the education system better. We can’t just pass the buck and place the blame on only one part of the puzzle.

  • Uzochi828

    I am a New York City teacher.  I just watched part of your program on WLIW.  My questions to all that are setting up these Teacher Evaluations are: (i)  What does a teacher do with students that has refused to do their work and use foul language on teachers that try to make them do their work?      (ii)   How do they regulate Principals that dislike a teacher for reasons known to them and will always pick on the teacher?   (iii)   How about those Principals and APs that just want to flex their power over teachers and will retaliate on a teacher that speaks up?

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