Judge: NYC can release teacher ratings

NEW YORK - (AP) - A judge ruled Monday that New York City canrelease performance ratings for 12,000 teachers based on astatistical analysis of student test scores. Justice Cynthia Kern of Manhattan state Supreme Court denied apetition by the United Federation of Teachers to keep the teachers'names private, saying that releasing the ratings with their namesattached would not be arbitrary or capricious under the law. Union President Michael Mulgrew said it would appeal and wouldask the Appellate Division to halt any release of the teacherratings pending its review of the decision. Jesse Levine, a lawyer for the city, said officials would awaitthe appeals court's ruling. The union's lawyer, Charles Moerdler, had argued at a Dec. 8hearing that releasing the data would be an invasion of privacy andwould unfairly subject teachers to public ridicule. But Kern said in her ruling that the courts "have repeatedlyheld that release of job-performance-related information, evennegative information such as that involving misconduct, does notconstitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy." Kern said the public "has an interest in the job performance ofpublic employees, particularly in the field of education." At issue are so-called value-added scores for teachers in thethird through eighth grades whose students take New York state mathand English tests. The ratings are intended to measure whether a particularteacher's students scored better or worse than expected on thetests. The city Department of Education uses the data to evaluateteachers' job performance. Five media organizations filed Freedom of Information Lawrequests for the ratings after The Los Angeles Times publishedsimilar data for 6,000 Los Angeles teachers in August. The New York media organizations' lawyer, David Schulz, praisedKern's ruling. "The court recognized the important principal that the publichas a legitimate interest in the job performance of publicemployees, particularly in schools," Schulz said. The union argued that the value-added methodology is flawed andis based on standardized tests that were discredited after thestate Education Department said they had become too easy to pass. "The reports, which are largely based on discredited statetests, have huge margins of error and are filled with inaccuracies,will only serve to mislead parents looking for real information,"Mulgrew said.

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