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Boston Union Sees Bias in Teacher Evaluations

The Boston Teachers Union wants the school district to conduct a review of why black and Hispanic teachers seem to be getting lower ratings on the district's teacher-evaluation system, the Boston Globe reports.

The union says that black teachers are three times as likely as white teachers to be put on an improvement plan, and Hispanic teachers 1.5 times more likely to be put on a plan, which can lead to termination if teachers don't improve. About half the district's teachers have been reviewed so far this year; 46 could be let go, the newspaper reported.

Superintendent Carol Johnson, who also today announced her resignation, acknowledged the trend in the data. But the system is still better than the prior one, she said.

It is unclear from the story whether one particular component of the evaluations (observation, achievement measures) seems to be leading to the lower scores; Massachusetts regulations require consideration of both.

It's too soon to call it a trend, but the idea that some of the policy changes associated with the "education reform" movement—"turnaround" schools, closures, charter schools, and teacher evaluation—are having a disparate impact on underserved groups seems to be picking up currency among opponents of those changes.

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