An effort to evaluate public school teachers in New York by the Department of Education through the use of reports has seemingly failed as most of the teachers have never received them.

According to the New York Times the city distributed 12,000 reports for any teacher that taught fourth through eighth grades for the last two years to see how well they did in educating students.

The reports which are not going to be released to parents uses standardized test scores to determine how much teachers have helped students improve year over year and whether they are successful with particular groups that were previously identified as struggling.

At the urging of the teacher unions the state legislature last year passed a law prohibiting the use of standardized test data in tenure decisions.   The unions also managed to get the city to agree to not make the reports public.

The school system recently graded the schools and gave 97 percent of them a grade of A or B.   At the same time the teacher reports rated 20 percent of them as “low” performers  and 60 percent as “middle”  performers.  There is a real disconnect here.

One of the reasons that the teachers haven’t received their reports can be summed up by the attitude of Odelphia Pierre the principal of Public School 129 in Harlem.  Pierre told the Times that she was worried how the reports would affect morale and told the teachers they could view the reports if they wanted.  She added that she didn’t want the teachers to be “distracted” in the middle of of the year.

She sounds like she is applying outcome based education standards to her teachers where high achievers are slowed down until the lower achievers have caught up so that the underperformers won’t have their feelings hurt.

If Pierce wants to be a a good administrator then she needs to use the report along with some other criteria to evaluate her staff and weed out the laggards who aren’t helping the students progress and succeed rather than continue to carry them and provide a substandard education.

In addition the legislature should show some backbone and rescind the law that prevents the reports from being used in tenure decisions and the city should release the reports to the parents.  They have a right to know of the teachers they entrust their children to are doing a good job.  With 80 percent at the middle to low level it doesn’t look like that is the case.