Individual NYC Teacher Evaluations Should Never Be Looked at Individually

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Photo: Anna Bryukhanova

New York City has become the second city in the United States to release teacher names and ratings, much to the dismay of educators and their unions. The news media was handed CDs today containing information on 18,000 public school teachers ranked by individual performance, based on student test gains over a five-year period ending with the 2009-2010 school year. But the city doesn't want people to think this is about singling anyone out — all 18,000 of them are in it together. 

The New York Times' SchoolBook blog reports:

“The purpose of these reports is not to look at any individual score in isolation ever,” said the Education Department’s chief academic officer, Shael Polakow-Suransky. “No principal would ever make a decision on this score alone and we would never invite anyone — parents, reporters, principals, teachers — to draw a conclusion based on this score alone.”

Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott also underscored the need to use the individual rankings cautiously.

“I don’t want our teachers disparaged in any way, and I don’t want our teachers denigrated based on this information,” Mr. Walcott said. “This is very rich data that has evolved over the years. As Shael has indicated, it is old data and it’s just one piece of information. And so I don’t want our teachers characterized in a certain way based on this very complex rich tool that we have available to us.”

That said, the easily searchable databases are coming soon. Feel free to play around — just don't forget to reserve judgment!