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State Judge Rules City Can Release Teacher Ratings

Monday, January 10, 2011

A state judge has ruled that New York City can release the names of 12,000 teachers who were rated based on student test scores. State Supreme Court Justice Cynthia Kern said releasing the names was not an unwarranted invasion of privacy, as the teachers union claimed.

She said other courts have allowed the release of information related to job performance. She also said the public "has an interest in the job performance of public employees, particularly in the field of education."

The union says it will seek to appeal. The city will not release any of the teacher ratings until the appellate division decides whether the union's case has enough merit to proceed.

But Sean Corcoran, an assistant Professor of Educational Economics at New York University who's examined the data, says the ratings aren't very accurate except for identifying a small percentage of teachers at the top and bottom.

“A lot of parents will find that these measures don't square with what they know about their own teachers, or their friends' and families' teachers, and that will serve to really undermine their usefulness in the long run,” he said, adding that is unfortunate because he said the ratings can be useful in some cases.

Cara Cibener, who teaches sixth grade humanities at Tompkins Square Middle School in the East Village, disagrees with the judge’s finding that the right to know trumps accuracy. She says she was rated an above average math teacher even though she doesn't even teach the subject.

“Myself and other teachers I work with and all across the city could potentially be harmed by this information if it's not explained well or it's inaccurate,” Cibener said.

Read Kern's decision below (or enlarge it):

Enlarge the document.

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