The public has a right to view the controversial ratings of 12,000 city teachers that were based on their students’ tests scores, the Manhattan Appellate Division ruled Thursday.
The decision, affirming one by the lower court, deals a blow to the teachers union, which sued to protect their members’ privacy, citing disastrous mistakes in the calculations of the evaluations.
The Appellate division judges dismissed those privacy concerns.
“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 division ruled.
It was not immediately clear when the so-called teacher data reports will be released because the union will seek to appeal the decision again, officials said.
Secretary of Education Duncan: Release all teachers’ scores!
The union needs permission to go to the state’s Court of Appeals after the unanimous decision.
Media outlets, including the Daily News, sued for access to the teacher data reports, which compare teachers based on the progress students make on the third- through eighth-grade math and reading exams.
The reports that the Daily News initially sought to review are based on progress between the 2009 and 2008 standardized tests.
The state has since discredited those years’ exams, saying the tests had become predictable and easier to pass as a result.
In addition to challenging the exams, union officials identified 200 other ratings that were based on incorrect information.
The lower court dismissed these concerns, arguing that the public had a right know. The Appellate Division agreed.
Teachers union officials continue to dismiss the accuracy of the reports yesterday, citing the wide margin of error for many of the ratings.
“Experts agree that an ‘accountability’ measure with a 58-point swing – like the DOE’s teacher data system – is worse than useless,” said United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew in a statement.
“Parents and teachers need credible, accurate assessments rather than guesswork.”
For the last two years, the teacher data reports have been used to guide principals’ decisions on whether to grant teachers the job protections of tenure.
“I think it’s extremely irresponsible to associate teachers’ names publicly with data where there is such room for error,” said Julie Cavanagh, a special education teacher at Public School 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
“You’re providing misinformation to parents and potentially demonizing teachers. It’s dangerous. Parents should be informed, but I don’t think the data reports do that.”