New York City Teacher Rankings Based on Flawed Data

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The decision by the New York City Department of Education to release teacher rankings—rankings which, by the department's own admission, are based on unreliable data—amounts to a public flogging of teachers, AFT president Randi Weingarten says.

"Instead of working with teachers to develop and implement an evaluation system that assesses teachers based on multiple criteria and helps them improve, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city's education officials preferred to publicly ridicule teachers," Weingarten says.

Several New York City newspapers, TV stations and radio stations subsequently published stories based on the data, which was released Feb. 24.

"The Teacher Data Reports are based on bad data and an unproven methodology with a huge margin of error," says United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew, who is an AFT vice president. "They are not an accurate reflection of the work of any teacher, and their release would be particularly inappropriate in view of the fact that the Department of Education has already announced that they will be discontinued and replaced with a statewide program."

Even New York City schools chancellor Dennis Walcott has expressed concern about the potential harmful effects of releasing the reports. "I don't want our teachers stereotyped," he told reporters in September. "I have a responsibility to make sure that we protect our workforce … because they're working their butts off to do their job."

The UFT is planning information sessions, outreach to parent and community groups, and individual assistance to any teachers whose report may cause harm. The union also ran a full-page ad in a number of newspapers on Feb. 24 setting the record straight on the Teacher Data Reports. [United Federation of Teachers, AFT press release]

February 27, 2012