The Grading Teachers Project: Share Your Thoughts

May 15, 2012 at 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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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.

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MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Judy and Josh Weston, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Rosalind P. Walter, Jody and John Arnhold and the Metropolitan Media Fund. Corporate funding is provided by Mutual of America, your retirement company.

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