Union Loses Appeal on Teacher Ratings

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The New York City teachers' union on Tuesday lost another round in its yearlong court battle to keep performance ratings of about 12,000 city teachers secret, with the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Manhattan ruling that it would not take up the case.

The union has one final legal recourse before the case is dropped and the information is released, and its president indicated it would take that step.

“Given the harm that could be done by the release of these misleading and inaccurate reports, we will be filing a motion directly with the New York State Court of Appeals seeking leave to appeal the Appellate Division’s decision in this case," Michael Mulgrew, the president of the teachers' union, the United Federation of Teachers, said in a statement.

For the past three years, the city has issued teacher performance rankings based on student test scores to 12,700 teachers around the city. At least a dozen news media organizations have requested access to the ratings, including The New York Times, and the city agreed in the summer of 2010 to provide it.

The union filed suit, however, arguing that the rankings, which are known as Teacher Data Reports, should be exempt from regular disclosure rules because they are misleading, subjective and inaccurate. Both a lower court and a state appeals court have ruled for the city and the news media, and against the union.

The eventual release of the rankings, which looks likely, is expected to set off a broad public debate in New York City and beyond about the value and usefulness of rating teachers based on their students' test scores. New York City's ratings are known to have broad margins of error and a teacher's performance score can vary widely from year to year.