Re-VAMp the system

It’s not just a Left Coast thing. The hub-bub caused in Los Angeles when the LA Times
disseminated individual teacher ratings is now raging in the Big Apple,
as several new organizations have sought similar information on New
York City instructors. NYC’s Department of Education says the public has a right
to view these value-added ratings for 12,000 of the city’s elementary-
and middle-school math and ELA teachers. And people we respect, like Eric Hanushek,
agree. The United Federation of Teachers, not surprisingly, sued to
block release of such information. A state Supreme Court hearing is
scheduled for the week of Thanksgiving. This issue is a tough one, but
here’s our bottom line: Such individual information is exceptionally
valuable for teachers, principals, and parents, but not much good for
anyone else. School and district leaders should see and use value-added
rankings when making decisions about staffing. And parents should have
the right to know how effective their own children’s teachers are—as
well as the teacher down the hall. The public surely deserves aggregate
data on teacher effectiveness at the building level and above. But
releasing ratings of Ms. Jones and Mr. Smith to the media is inviting
unnecessary trouble. We don’t say this often, but the unions are partly
right on this one.

Debate over value-added teacher ratings hits New York City,” by Liz Willen, Hechinger Report, October 22, 2010.

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