NEW YORK (CBS New York.com) — Following a controversial ruling Monday which allowed performance ratings for 12,000 New York City school teachers to be released, the United Federation of Teachers sent a memo to members Thursday expressing disagreement and frustration with the decision.
The memo states that the performance ratings, which are based on statistical analysis of student test scores, are “fundamentally flawed” and the Department of Education will “do nothing” to fix the reports.
Instead, the DOE is asking teachers who have taught English or math in grades 4 through 8 at any time since 2005 to check their class lists and make changes online during a few assigned days in January.
“[We] have been inundated with calls from teachers and principals concerned about the access, accuracy and availability of records that go back six years,” the Union said.
“For the vast majority of teachers, this will be the first time they have been invited to review five years of student lists, and that makes the process daunting.”
The full text of the letter sent to their members by the UFT on Thursday, January 13, 2010 follows :
Three years into its value-added project, the DOE is finally asking teachers to review their class lists in an attempt to make at least one part of the Teacher Data Reports accurate.
Meanwhile, however, a Manhattan judge has ruled that the 2008-2009 reports can be released to the press because “there is no requirement that data be reliable for it to be disclosed.” The UFT does not agree, and it is appealing that decision. In the meantime, our lawsuit had already exposed how fundamentally flawed the reports are: many teachers are being judged based on students, subjects or grades they never taught.
Let’s be clear: The DOE’s verification process will do nothing to fix the reports that the DOE is threatening to release to the press. It is designed for future reports only and it is a thoroughly inadequate response to its own data debacle. Essentially, the DOE is asking all teachers who have taught English or math in grades 4 through 8 at any time since 2005 to check their class lists and make changes online during a few assigned days in January. The UFT has been inundated with calls from teachers and principals concerned about the access, accuracy, and availability of records that go back six years. Ernie Logan, the head of the principals’ union, has expressed the frustration shared by teachers and principals in every borough — the timeline is not realistic, the old class lists are difficult to access, and the whole process is likely to take time away from “instructional and non-instructional activities.”
For the vast majority of teachers, this will be the first time they have been invited to review five years of student lists, and that makes the process daunting. At the same time, the DOE is planning to use the lists in new TDRs whether teachers participate in the verification process or not. And the UFT is very concerned that mistakes you uncover now may have been part of the 2008-09 reports, which the DOE will not fix, but will release if it prevails in court.
Information from the DOE about the process for making corrections can be found here. However, if you have problems with the process or the data, be sure to let us know as well. Email us at TDRreports@uft.org or call us at 212-598-6860. In particular, we urge you to tell us about any errors you find in class lists. That way, we can continue to support you as the DOE presses to release results based on flawed data to the press.