Chancellor Supports Measuring Effective Teachers

New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein told WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show” that he agrees with President Obama’s plan to reward states and districts that can measure which teachers are most effective.

Klein’s stand was not surprising, given that he backed a plan last year that would have linked teacher tenure to student achievement. But the plan died in Albany when the state legislature sided with the teachers union by explicitly banning districts from using student test scores to evaluate teachers.

Now that the Obama Administration is encouraging states to apply for $5 billion worth of stimulus grants that reward states for using data systems and measuring teachers, Klein says he’ll continue to argue that test scores can tell you something about which teachers are most effective. And he’s willing to make that case to the governor. A few weeks ago, Governor Paterson told “The Brian Lehrer” show that he had concerns about such a system because it’s hard to compare teachers in high performing schools to those with more challenging populations. When asked about that comment, Klein said he wants to sit down with Paterson to explain his position.

KLEIN: We’ve done a lot of studies and analysis looking at different teachers with the same class size and same seniority getting different results with students. So I think it’s really an important line the way the president said it - he said to focus on how teachers affect student achievement.

Klein also said he agreed with Obama that test scores could be one factor - and not the only factor - in figuring out which teachers are most effective. He pointed to an agreement he struck with the teachers union allowing a version of pay for performance in New York City, which has given out $20 million to whole schools that raise student achievement.

Both Klein and Mayor Bloomberg said the city would apply for some of the $5 billion in stimulus grants for school reform, both on its own and in conjunction with the state.

Listen to the entire Brian Lehrer interview