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Who Should Have Access to Teacher Data?

The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, has weighed in on the Los Angeles Times' value-added project. She agrees that parents, teachers, and principals have the right to access this kind of performance data, but argues making such data public to the public at large isn't appropriate.

In some ways, the L.A. Times series is really a litmus test about data, its usage, and who gets to access it. And it's unclear whether other journalists or districts are going to follow the paper's lead and try to obtain these data or to make them public. In the past, getting access to such information hasn't been easy: Researchers have long complained about blocked access to value-added data, even without teacher names attached to them.

Another issue that occurs to me is that the push to incorporate these data into personnel evaluations is likely to help define who is and who isn't eligible to access such data. Evaluations of public employees are often protected by state or district policy. So if value-added measures become a formal part of teacher evaluations, as is the case in several states' Race to the Top proposals, that change would probably limit the accessibility of such data to a few groups.

UPDATE, 11:11 p.m.: John Fensterwald makes the same point at The Educated Guess.

It isn't an issue right now in Los Angeles, but it could be in the future: The Times reports that district officials want to formally make value-added measures part of teacher evaluations in an upcoming contract with United Teachers Los Angeles.

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