2011-08-26 / Top Stories

Judge Nixes State Teacher Rating System

By Howard Schwach

One of the major initiatives pushed by the Bloomberg administration and the city’s Department of Education was rating teachers based on the scores their students achieve on the high stakes standardized mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA) tests.

The belief was that poor scores on the test must be the teacher’s fault and that teachers whose students did not make adequate progress on the test should be terminated.

As part of the federal Race to the Top application, the teacher’s union had supported a new law last year to allow students’ test scores to be part of evaluations — a move that unions had previously opposed.

The rule passed at Governor Andrew Cuomo‘s urging this spring codified the belief that poor scores equated to poor instructor.

And, while the agreement with the UFT allowed for the use of test scores for 20 percent of the teacher’s evaluation, the state education department unilaterally based 40 percent of the evaluation on test scores.

Now, however, state teachers can’t be labeled as lousy based solely on their students’ poor performance on state standardized tests, an Albany state Supreme Court judge decided Wednesday.

Other measurements like principal evaluation were not given proper weight in ratting teachers under new rules passed this Spring, Judge Michael Lynch ruled.

State teachers union officials, who had filed the suit, called it a big win. “Today’s ruling is good for students and for teachers,” said New York State United Teachers President Richard Iannuzzi.

State officials said they intend to appeal the decision.

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