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Queens Chronicle

Union sues to block release of teacher data

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Posted: Thursday, October 28, 2010 12:00 am

The United Federation of Teachers has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the release of ratings issued by the city Department of Education over the past three years for more than 12,000 of its teachers.

The union contends that the Teacher Data Reports are flawed, because they are based solely on student performance on standardized math and English Language Arts exams in grades 4 and 8. The UFT further claims the reports rely on an unproven methodology and are marred by inaccurate information and invalid test scores.

The New York Post filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the information, which prompted the union’s lawsuit.

The DOE agreed to not release the data until a court date determines the merit of the lawsuit on Nov. 24.

“We’re glad that parents won’t be subjected to more unreliable information from the DOE,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “Our teachers can now focus on the real task of moving education forward.”

The New York State United Teachers, the state public teachers union, claimed the data would be used by some in the media and others to smear teachers.

“Media misuse of unreliable student data to unfairly label or scapegoat teachers would undermine the good-faith initiatives now under way to strengthen teacher evaluations in New York state,” NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi said in a written statement.

Some, however, claim the UFT is merely trying to protect subpar teachers by seeking to block the release of the data.

The Education Action Group, a pro-charter school education reform group, said the the release of the data would, “inject more accountability into an education system plagued by huge union-related costs, terrible graduation rates, and thousands of teachers that simply collect checks to do nothing.”

The group claims similar teacher ratings were made public in the Los Angeles school system, and led to a “more transparent, effective public education system” there.

The ratings, scored from 0 to 100, rate teachers in five different categories: high, above average, average, below average and low.

Teacher rating scores are determined by comparing the estimated predicted gains of their students on state math and reading tests with students’ actual performance on the tests.

The city originally said it would release the data last week, but then reversed course and said it would wait until the Nov. 24 court date.

Welcome to the discussion.