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UFT to Sue to Prevent N.Y.C. Teacher-Rating Release

The United Federation of Teachers plans to sue to prevent the New York City school district from releasing information on teachers' "value added" scores to reporters, the union said in a statement.

The GothamSchools news service reported today on its website that the district would this week provide the ratings to reporters who filed open-records requests. The news service said the district is still debating the details, such as whether it will redact individual teachers' names to the ratings, which are based on growth on student tests over two or more years.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew had some tough words abouts the district's plans.

"First, after years of boasting by the Department of Education about our kids' progress, the state declares that the tests the DOE has been citing are basically useless. Now the DOE wants to make public a group of reports based on these faulty tests, reports that also feature other incomplete and inaccurate student data," he said.

Legal questions abound, too. Can the district give out these ratings now that the data are being used in tenure-granting determinations, and now that state law permits the incorporation of scores in teacher evaluations—part of teachers' private personnel files? Alternatively, can the UFT stop a release under a public-records law if teachers' names are redacted?

Beyond just the teacher-quality world, this news is of particular interest for those of us who work in the field of education journalism: No fewer than four New York-based news organizations filed the requests for this information. (Gothamschools was not one of them.)

Ever since The Los Angeles Times became the first news organization to obtain—and publish—information on individual teachers, education reporters and editors across the nation have spent a lot of time trying to work through the complicated ethical issues presented by that work.

Stay tuned.

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