New York, Denver, Mike Bloomberg, and Value-Added Teacher Ratings

New York City is not going to release individual teacher value-adding ratings today, after all–even though Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said yesterday he would support such a move. As GothamSchools reports, the city and union agreed in court to postpone such a release until further legal hearings next month.

In other teacher reform news this morning, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is currently in Denver celebrating that city's school reform efforts. Interestingly, Denver's much-hailed teacher merit pay system, ProComp, is quite conservative when it comes to the use of value-added data; only between 8 and about 20 percent of a teacher's evaluation score under ProComp is based on growth in his or her students' standardized test scores. 

That said, Colorado's new Great Teachers and Leaders Law would–if it survives the inevitable post-midterm political upheaval in the state–require Denver to up the weight of value-added to 50 percent over the next several years. Bloomberg has spoken highly of that idea. Currently in New York City, value-added ratings are not part of teacher evaluation, but New York's state Race to the Top application calls for such measures to soon count for 40 percent of a teacher's rating. That's less than Colorado, but still significant–and more likely to withstand shifting political winds. 

AFT President Randi Weingarten's statement on the NYC value-added dust-up is after the jump. I haven't seen a DOE release; if I find one, I'll post it. 

Statement by Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers, On Agreement Not To Release Teacher Data Reports for NYC Teachers

The United Federation of Teachers and the New York City Department of Education agreed yesterday that the city would not immediately release teacher data reports based on value-added measures.

WASHINGTON—We applaud the decision not to release teacher data reports for New York City teachers, pending a Nov. 24 state trial court hearing.

Teachers use such data to diagnose students’ strengths and weaknesses, but leading researchers, including those at the Educational Testing Service, RAND Corp., the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education and the Economic Policy Institute, have concluded that value-added models, which are the basis of the teacher data reports, are not an appropriate tool for evaluating teachers because, at this juncture, the models cannot isolate the effect of an individual teacher. Further, the data in New York is riddled with inaccuracies—and based on tests the state has since determined are not adequate for measuring student performance. Simply put, the city’s department of education’s use of value-added data is in the “research and development” stage. City officials knew this, and that is why they promised confidentiality regarding the information. Today’s decision gives the United Federation of Teachers and New York City time to work through these issues before the Nov. 24 court hearing.

We also applaud New York State United Teachers and the state department of education for their work on a forward-looking evaluation system that will use data to assess teaching in an appropriate way. Parents and the public deserve information and transparency, but the information has to be accurate and meaningful. Value-added measures become much more statistically sound—and useful—when they are based on schoolwide and districtwide numbers that reveal how student achievement is trending. They are most useful when they are one of many measures in a meaningful and fair evaluation system that is focused on improving instruction.

State officials, city officials and union leaders worked together recently on the state’s successful Race to the Top application. We hope this collaborative process will continue so that a strong and robust teacher evaluation and development program can be developed.

One thought on “New York, Denver, Mike Bloomberg, and Value-Added Teacher Ratings

  1. FGS

    Merit pay is usually a smug excuse for employers to pay less. Instead of owning up and saying they aren’t paying bonuses this year, employers just make the “merit” criteria a little less attainable. Then they tell the employees we’re sorry but you didn’t earn your merit increase like we’d hoped. Most people take about 5 years to catch on.


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