Monday, March 5, 2012

Topic of the Week: Teacher Data Reports

Arguably the "hottest" topic in education at the present is the newly-released teacher data reports. The New York City Department of Education just revealed the ratings of about 12,000 fourth through eighth grade public school teachers who teach Math, English or both. Teachers, administrators, parents, and even students themselves have mixed opinions on these teacher rankings, which are based upon  students’ gains on the state’s Math and English exams over five years and up until the 2009-10 school year.

According to an article in The New York Times, The ranking system is controversial for a number of reasons:
  • The higher teachers rank one year, the harder it is for them to sustain their high ranking by showing significant progress in students the next year.
  • The data are more than a year old and based on test scores that have been somewhat discredited.  
  • There are aspects of a child’s life — or distractions on test day — that the numbers cannot capture: supportive parents, a talented principal, the help of a tutor, allergies or a relentlessly barking dog outside the classroom. 
  • Students can change classes during the year, and teachers who have them in their classroom for less than a full year can nevertheless be assessed on those students’ performances.  
For the source of the information above and to learn more about the teacher data reports, click here to visit the article on The New York Times website.

For this week's discussion, let's talk about teacher rankings. 
How do you feel about the newly-released city teacher data reports? 
Is such a public reporting fair or accurate? 
How should teacher performance be measured?

Want to know how the teachers feel about it? Click here to read another recent article in The Times that highlights the decreasing teacher morale.  


  1. I can't think of any other job where the performance evaluation of individual workers is public knowledge to such an extent that I don't see it as being truly fair. Yes parents want to know how their child's teacher is doing but we have yet to find a way of measuring teacher's performance accurately enough that this would be a number that can truly define a teacher and their ability. - Michael Fallon

  2. It is very difficult for me to choose a side of this debate. I find it very peculiar and unfair that teachers are one of the very few professions subject to these publicized data reports; why don't we evaluate every doctor, every lawyer, every store clerk, and every government worker? Why aren't these evaluation results released to the public (and on the front page of the news)? I do believe that all teachers ought to be evaluated to ensure that they are the most successful educators possible, but I feel as though this should be the case for every working professional.
    Secondly, I highly disagree with how the teacher rankings are determined. Although standardized test scores should be a factor, I believe that there are literally hundreds of other ways to determine a teacher's success. Evaluations fail to report the individual achievements of students throughout the year; their papers, projects, portfolios, homework assignments, and class participation is not considered. The rankings do not reflect how a teacher manages the classroom or the activities that take place each day. In my opinion, it is all these factors combined that must be considered to properly evaluate a teacher's competency.

  3. I definitely agree with the points Mike and Anna mentioned. I do believe that teachers should be evaluated, but many factors must be included in the data report in order to reflect an accurate portrayal of a teacher's effectiveness in the classroom.

    In addition, I believe that teachers should have a say in how they should be evaluated. That way, everyone would be on the same page and it will lessen the frustration in the air.

    Something to think about:
    It seems that we will never escape the importance society puts on testing.

    - Alice Wong