Court Orders Teacher Evaluations Unsealed

By Jill Colvin on August 25, 2011 7:18pm 

An appeals court has ruled that teacher evaluation data should be made public.
An appeals court has ruled that teacher evaluation data should be made public.
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Flickr/James F Clay

MANHATTAN — A state appeals court has ruled that the city’s Department of Education must release teacher performance data — complete with teachers’ names.

Numerous media organizations had filed a Freedom of Information Law to request the evaluations, which are meant to assess how successful teachers have been at preparing their students for state exams.

"When balancing the privacy interests at stake against the public interest in disclosure of the information, we conclude that the requested reports should be disclosed," read the four-page decision.

"Indeed, the reports concern information of a type that is of compelling interest to the public, namely, the proficiency of public employees in the performance of their job duties," the court said.

The decision is a blow to the city’s teacher’s union, which has long-argued that the evaluation formulas are flawed and don’t reflect teachers’ classroom talents.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said the union is already in the process of appealing the decision. 

“Experts agree that an ‘accountability’ measure with a [wide margin of error] — like the DOE’s teacher data system — is worse than useless. Parents and teachers need credible, accurate assessments rather than guesswork,” he said in a statement.

The DOE will wait for the court’s decision on the UFT’s appeal before releasing the data, spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz said.

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