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Few Parents Examine N.Y. Teachers' Evaluation Scores

By guest blogger Andrew Ujifusa

This item first appeared on the State EdWatch blog.

I have a story coming out this week discussing the policy and political environment for K-12 in New York state this year, following a flurry of activity at the end of 2014 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and others. As you might expect, one of the big points of contention is teacher evaluations, suggested rewrite: and less than three years into the latest iteration of how teachers are evaluated in the Empire State, there's a strong chance that officials could overhaul the system yet again.

But teacher evaluation scores aren't just for local school boards and state government—parents can also request to see their child's teacher's ratings. (The issue of parental access to evaluations in New York came up in the very first story I wrote for Education Week.) So the Associated Press asked the question: How often do parents actually want to see the results of these evaluations?

The short answer is: Not very often. 

The AP asked several districts around the state the number of times parents have asked to see a specific teacher's evaluation scores. In the Albany and Binghamton districts, each reported one request from parents to see evaluations since 2012, when the new evaluation system kicked in. A broad geographic range of other districts including Syracuse and Rochester also reported no such requests. 

That's not definitive proof that parents have virtually no interest in seeing these evaluations: A parent in the Rochester district, Rhonda Olyer, told the AP that she wasn't aware that she could ask to see her child's teacher's evaluation, and Buffalo parent Samuel Radford said the evaluations as they are built right now aren't actually useful to parents. The AP also doesn't specify how many districts it asked for this information—New York City district officials didn't respond to the AP's request for the number of parent queries for evaluation results.

At the same time, Olyer also said she probably wouldn't want to see it unless her child's grades or behavior became a concern. And Carl Korn, a spokesman for the state teachers' union, the New York State United Teachers, said intangibles are the trump cards in this context: "Parents put much more faith in what they see teachers doing with their children than with a number."

Below, you can peruse the Geneseo district's form that parents have to fill out in order to request a teacher's (or principal's) evaluation in New York state. Among other things, you'll see that the scores are delivered only in face-to-face meetings:

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