Leonie Haimson, leader of Class Size Matters and Student Privacy Matters, maintains a terrific, informative blog for Néw York City and state issues called nyceducationnews@yahoogroups.com. Here she comments on the release of NYC teacher ratings based on state test scores. The bottom line in some of the reports shown below is that low test scores are caused by bad teachers, who are obviously ineffective. If every school had only “great” teachers, every student would have high scores. If only.

Leonie writes:

“8.2% of NYC teachers rated ineffective or developing, compared to 2.4% in the rest of state; meanwhile only 9.2% rated highly effective in NYC compared to 58.2% statewide.

“Tisch [chair of state Board of Regents] etc. say rest of state figures should be more like NYC, and call for re-design of system.

“Meanwhile Daily News editors — as dumb as ever — say NYC’s results don’t find enough ineffective teachers, considering “The results are absurd when roughly a third of city students pass state English and math tests.”

“They want the state to take away power of districts to design their own systems, fire teachers who are rated ineffective for 2 years in a row, and take more power away from principals to rate teachers highly whose students don’t score well on tests.

The New York Daily News editorial recommends:

One: Empower state, not local, officials to set the grades that will label teachers ineffective, developing, effective or highly effective.

Two: Get local districts out of the business of rating teachers using measures that are designed to boost subpar performers.

Three: Put teachers who are rated ineffective for two consecutive years in fire-at-will probationary status, rather than giving them access to hopelessly bureaucratic hearings.

Four: Ensure that a teacher whose students bomb tests cannot vault into a top rating because, for example, a principal gives a high mark for lesson planning.

Speaking of tests, improving education in New York will be one of the biggest Cuomo faces.


[My note:] What the Daily News wants is to eliminate due process (“hopelessly bureaucratic hearings”) so that teachers can be swiftly fired if scores don’t go up.

More reporting on the evaluations:

New York Post,
New York Times,
New York Daily News,
Capital New York (Pro),
Wall Street Journal,

Summary here:

by Jessica Bakeman, Eliza Shapiro and Conor Skelding

EVALS AS EVIDENCE—Education leaders use NYC scores as grist for statewide changes—Capital’s Jessica Bakeman and Eliza Shapiro: New York City’s evaluation of its teachers’ performance, which resulted in only 9 percent earning the highest scores under the state-mandated rating system, is more reliable than other districts’ and underscores the need for changes to ensure results aren’t artificially high, education leaders argued on Tuesday. In the rest of the state, 58 percent of teachers were rated “highly effective,” according to preliminary data released on Tuesday. That statistic is considered suspect, especially given students’ low scores on state exams, according to Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch, outgoing education commissioner John King and education groups that have supported strict accountability measures for teachers and schools.

“There’s a real contrast between how our students are performing and how their teachers and principals are evaluated,” Tisch said in a statement. “The ratings from districts aren’t differentiating performance. We look forward to working with the Governor, Legislature, NYSUT, and other education stakeholders to strengthen the evaluation law in the coming legislative session.”

The education department report includes recommendations for how to improve the system. For example, if more than 75 percent of teachers or principals are rated “highly effective” or fewer than 5 percent are rated “ineffective” on the component of the evaluation system that is based on observations, the lead evaluators in that district should be retrained and an independent audit might be appropriate, the department recommended. [PRO] http://bit.ly/1sByLgW

—Despite the overall high scores, New York State United Teachers is calling into question the validity of the results. “On the whole, they may be spot on,” NYSUT president Karen Magee told Gannett’s Jon Campbell. “But for individual teachers, they can be spectacularly wrong—and that undermines confidence in the whole system.” http://bit.ly/1BTUPTW

—At least 100 educators in Buffalo were erroneously rated “effective” or “highly effective” when their scores should have been lower, prompting a state probe. Buffalo News’ Sandra Tan: http://bit.ly/1sCuKZD