Evaluations of fourth- through eighth-grade English and Math teachers in New York City Public Schools will be released today, finally putting a score next to nearly 18,000 of the city’s 75,000 educators.
The Teacher Data Reports are based on scores students receive on their standardized tests. Teachers are rated for different test periods between 2007 through 2009. Charter School teachers were not included.
Some parents in Bed-Stuy are breathing a sigh of relief for what they see is finally a system that will hold teachers accountable.
“They should have been doing that,” said Leonard Bostic of teacher evaluations. His daughter is in the 6th grade and attends a school in Bed-Stuy. “Some people are in it just for the check and don’t really care about the welfare of the child. A lot of these teachers want the jobs, but don’t want to do them.”
Kimberly Fell works for Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School as the site coordinator in the school’s afterschool program with the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA. She said she thinks teacher evaluations are important, but the current rating system is still badly flawed.
“I think it’s useful to have some kind of measurement to assess how our teachers are doing in the school, but I don’t think that that’s all we should be going on,” said Fell. “We should also be taking time to observe teachers in the classrooms, do outcomes with the kids and talk to the kids themselves.”
However some public school administrators say the reports are an inaccurate measure of teacher performance and that publicizing the scores of math and English teachers and not of all teachers is just unfair.
One Bed-Stuy resident, who is also a principal at a public school in East New York, said the evaluations are not useful because they’re inaccurate.
“And nothing that’s inaccurate can be useful,” said the principal who chose to remain unnamed. “You can’t take two or three tests and measure a teacher’s effectiveness, because the sample size is too small. And the margin of error for the ratings is between 30-65 percent, which is ridiculous. There’s just a list of reasons why the entire rating system is bad.”
“I have not seen the ratings, but I know they’re not fair,” said one Bed-Stuy parent who was a former teacher at P.S. 346 in Sheepshead Bay. “There’s a complex algorithm that’s not fairly weighted. The performance level of every class of students can vary widely across the board. So the whole entire thing is just not fair, and the public eye doesn’t understand how it works."
“It’s all sensational,” said the principal. “Because the parents aren’t going to know to ask about measurement and accuracy and sample size. They’re just going to say, ‘Great, now I know how well my child’s teacher is performing.’
“But there’s going to be a lot of teachers whose reputations will be damaged."
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