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State Releases Teacher Evaluation Scores Without Revealing Names

It’s been more than 5 years since the Los Angeles Times published a database that allowed the public to review employee evaluation ratings for all elementary teachers in the city’s school district. The database stirred up plenty of controversy because names were revealed.

Since then, several states, including Michigan, New York and Florida, have given parents access to teacher evaluations, while others passed legislation that would prohibit the release of that type of data to the public, according to neaToday.com. Just recently, Connecticut joined Arkansas and Indiana in providing access to teachers’ performance data without revealing names.

The Connecticut ratings revealed that 98.4 percent of the teachers were considered high performers, with about 33 percent getting “exemplary” marks, and about 65 percent earning ratings of “proficient.” Only 1.5 percent were rated as “developing” and the 0.2 percent were considered “below standard.” It was the first time that parents in that state were able to review the data.

Connecticut’s $13.5 million evaluation system included extensive training for helping evaluators determine teachers’ performance based on numerous factors.

Kelly Donnelly, chief of staff at the State Department of Education, told the Hartford Courant that teacher evaluation ratings primarily should be viewed as a “starting point” — not an end point. They should be used as tools in developing a professional development plan to improve employee performance, Donnelly said.

In the matter of the Los Angeles Times disclosure of teacher scores, the courts ruled in favor of the school district, which contended that the release of such information to the public could be harmful for numerous reasons, including making teachers resistant to seeking employment at Los Angeles Unified School District, prompting parents to transfer their children into the classes of high-performing teachers; and driving existing teachers in the school district to resign.

“Clearly, the public has an interest in avoiding these consequences in its schools,” wrote Judge Russell Kussman.