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Albany Deal: Teacher Evaluations Will Be Public Only to Parents

Thursday, June 21, 2012 - 04:07 PM

5:38 p.m. | Updated Legislators forestalled a repeat of the highly charged response to the release of individual teacher evaluations in February by striking a last-minute deal to limit the disclosure of teacher data in the future, legislative leaders said Thursday.

In a deal reached in the final days of the session in Albany, legislators agreed to a system that will allow parents to see the evaluations of their children's current teachers, but the public will be allowed to see only evaluation information with teachers' names redacted.

The deal is a victory for the United Federation of Teachers and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who brokered a compromise with legislators, and a blow to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and city education officials, who have argued for unfettered access to teacher evaluations for the public.

The mayor, in line with the education reform movement, has argued that schools can be improved only with greater teacher accountability.

According to a report by Thomas Kaplan, who covers Albany, on nytimes.com:

Under the measure, the State Education Department will be required to make public detailed evaluation data on its Web site, but without the names of teachers. Parents, while being permitted to see the evaluations for their children's teachers, will not be able to see the evaluations of the teachers who, for example, might teach their children the next year.

The Democrat-controlled Assembly quickly embraced Mr. Cuomo’s proposal, and on Thursday morning, the Republican-controlled Senate announced it would allow a vote on the bill. The Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure on Thursday afternoon, and the Assembly, after a long debate that revealed some discomfort with the idea of teacher evaluations, was expected to follow suit later in the afternoon.

Mr. Bloomberg responded late in the day with an e-mailed statement:

I believe that parents have a right to full disclosure when it comes to information about their child’s education, and I am disappointed that this bill falls short of that goal. Evaluations are important resources for parents, principals and teachers alike, and parents need information to make good decisions about their children’s schools. However, I do appreciate the Governor’s insistence that the State Education Department post school data so that parents can analyze how districts perform, and that teacher, principal and school information will be made widely available online. I know this is a difficult issue, and I commend the Governor for approaching it in a serious way. Chancellor Walcott and I will work to comply with the bill’s requirements and to ensure that all available data is provided to every parent in our school system.

Earlier in the day, in a statement e-mailed to reporters, Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said:

Today the New York State Legislature took some major steps on behalf of our schools and our children. I want to thank Governor Cuomo, Speaker Silver and Majority Leader Skelos for their leadership in working to strike an appropriate balance -- ensuring that parents can have information about their children’s teachers, while helping to prevent the kind of vilification of teachers that resulted from Mayor Bloomberg’s insistence on releasing the misleading and inaccurate Teacher Data Reports last year.

I also want to thank the members of the Assembly for their efforts to stop the wholesale closing of schools in New York City and to give communities a bigger role in deciding where and how schools should be co-located in their districts. We need a comprehensive strategy to fix rather than abandon struggling schools, and we need to give parents – who have for years been ignored by the city’s Department of Education – a real role in important decisions about their local schools.

A more complete report on the Albany deal can be found on nytimes.com.

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