ALBANY, N.Y. October 22, 2010 - New York State United Teachers said today that misusing data to evaluate students or teachers is "never acceptable," and it would continue to hold media and policymakers accountable for attempts to misuse scores "whenever or wherever that occurs."
"Media misuse of unreliable student data to unfairly label or scapegoat teachers would undermine the good-faith initiatives now under way to strengthen teacher evaluations in New York state," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "As educators, we are committed to ensuring that assessments, whether of students or teachers, are based on fair and valid measures that incorporate all necessary elements, and are used in the way they were intended."
The New York City data being sought by some media outlets fails to meet that standard on all counts, he said, and would only fuel unfair teacher-bashing and scapegoating. The United Federation of Teachers, NYSUT's affiliate in New York City, succeeded Thursday in getting the city to delay release of data from an experimental pilot project until the matter can be heard in court. (see www.uft.org).
The data links teachers by name to so-called "value added" scores that theoretically quantify teachers' impact on student achievement. In fact, experts agree that current methodology for measuring "value added" has well-documented limitations that undercut its reliability.
"This particular data was gathered for an experimental pilot project and is based on tests that the state itself has disavowed, and on deeply flawed methodology that is neither fair nor accurate in assessing 'value added,'" said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira. "Parents and teachers need and deserve a process that is fair and reliable in measuring student growth.
"This would qualify as abuse of student test information," Neira added. "At a time when teachers are leading initiatives to strengthen the profession, this would set back good-faith efforts to establish fair and appropriate ways to include student growth as one measure of teacher effectiveness."
Neira noted that, through NYSUT's Innovation Initiative, five local labor/management teams are laying valuable groundwork on the appropriate way to incorporate student growth as one of multiple elements in teacher evaluations. That work offers a foundation for the state's plan to develop fair and accurate teacher evaluations that would include student growth as one of multiple measures.
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents some 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.