New York to Red Flag Teachers who Fail to Improve Test Results

The My School website ‘red flags’ schools with low test results. The next step may be ‘red flags’ for teachers who fail to improve class test results, following the introduction of a teacher rankings in New York City by Julia Gillard’s mentor, School’s Chancellor, Joel Klein.

Having shown her the way on school report cards, Klein has now shown her the way on report cards for teachers. Last week, he introduced a report card for ranking teachers and flagging those who fail to improve their class results. They will be used to identify and fire teachers who consistently fail to lift student test scores.

The Prime Minister and the Federal Education Minister have said that the My School website will be expanded to include additional information on schools. They have both said that teachers and principals who fail to improve school results should be sacked and Gillard has said that parents should use My School to identify under-performing teachers.

All this, together with Gillard’s previous enthusiastic endorsement of the New York City school reporting model, suggests that the Government will consider Klein’s new report cards.

The New York teacher reports will rank teachers whose tenure is up for review. Each teacher will be given a percentile ranking based on improvement in their students’ test scores on the state’s math and English tests over the last year and the last three years. Their ranking will be compared with all other teachers in the same subject area throughout New York City and with peer teachers who have similar classes and teaching experience.

Teachers who fall into the bottom or top 25% of the rankings will be red-flagged by the Education Department. The top 25% of the teachers will be considered “tenure likely” and the bottom 25% deemed “tenure in doubt.” These will serve as recommendations to principals to renew tenure or fire teachers.

Teachers who have previous unsatisfactory ratings or who are on extended probation will also be red-flagged.

Department officials say that principals are free to ignore the recommendations. A teacher who places high in the rankings can still be denied tenure if the principal provides reasons, and a teacher with low scores can still have their tenure renewed.

The new system will only apply to teachers who teach maths and English for grades 4 to 8. Other subjects and grades are not subject to state tests, so test data is not available to produce teacher report cards.

In introducing the new teacher reports, Klein has reneged on an agreement with the United Federation of Teachers. When New York’s school report cards were first introduced in 2008, Klein had made an agreement with the union that they would not affect tenure evaluations or teacher pay.

A sample teacher report card can be downloaded here

Information on the new teacher report cards can be found in the New York Daily News (12 February); New York Post (12 February); the Gotham Schools website ; and the New York City Department of Education website

Trevor Cobbold

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