The United Federation of Teachers and the New York City Department of Education agreed yesterday that the city would not immediately release teacher data reports based on value-added measures.
WASHINGTON—We applaud the decision not to release teacher data reports for New York City teachers, pending a Nov. 24 state trial court hearing.
Teachers use such data to diagnose students’ strengths and weaknesses, but leading researchers, including those at the Educational Testing Service, RAND Corp., the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education and the Economic Policy Institute, have concluded that value-added models, which are the basis of the teacher data reports, are not an appropriate standalone tool for evaluating teachers because, at this juncture, the models cannot isolate the effect of an individual teacher. Further, the data in New York is riddled with inaccuracies—and based on tests the state has since determined are not adequate for measuring student performance. Simply put, the city’s department of education’s use of value-added data is in the “research and development” stage. City officials knew this, and that is why they promised confidentiality regarding the information. Today’s decision gives the United Federation of Teachers and New York City time to work through these issues before the Nov. 24 court hearing.
We also applaud New York State United Teachers and the state department of education for their work on a forward-looking evaluation system that will use data to assess teaching in an appropriate way. Parents and the public deserve information and transparency, but the information has to be accurate and meaningful. Value-added measures become much more statistically sound—and useful—when they are based on schoolwide and districtwide numbers that reveal how student achievement is trending. They are most useful when they are one of many measures in a meaningful and fair evaluation system that is focused on improving instruction.
State officials, city officials and union leaders worked together recently on the state’s successful Race to the Top application. We hope this collaborative process will continue so that a strong and robust teacher evaluation and development program can be developed.