Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New York’s teacher evaluations go public

Posted By on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 10:39 AM

Imagine having your next work performance review made public. Thankfully, most of us don't have to worry about that.

But New York's teachers do.

Lawmakers wrestled for weeks over how to give parents useful information about the competency of their children's teachers and principals. Some lawmakers wanted everything about the evaluations out in the open, including the educators' names.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was especially interested in seeing evaluations in their entirety released to the public.

But union leaders and many lawmakers were concerned about teachers' privacy. They argue that students' test scores are influenced by such things as their home life, not simply a teacher's performance.

Governor Cuomo signed the teacher evaluation disclosure law yesterday, and it is being hailed as a wise compromise. The evaluations will be posted on the State Education Department's website. The names of the teachers and principals will not be posted online, but they will be made available to parents and guardians.

At a time when adults are constantly reminding young people to use good judgment about what they post on the internet, maybe it was the right approach. But like so many aspects of the evaluation, it's hard picturing how this is going to work.

In a small town or suburban school, for instance, connecting the dots between evaluations and teachers' names shouldn't be too difficult. And what's going to stop parents from disseminating evaluations that include personal information about a teacher?

For people who want more teacher accountability, the compromise will have to do for now. For teachers worried about seeing their evaluation and other personal information being passed around to "friends" and "followers," I'm not sure their concerns are unwarranted.

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