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RELEASE: Publishing Teacher Ratings by Name Hinders Education Reform

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Contact: Katie Peters
Phone: 202.741.6285
Email: kpeters@americanprogress.org

Washington, D.C. — Today a new issue brief released by the Center for American Progress concludes that publishing teacher-performance ratings by name will undermine efforts to improve public schools. The paper documents the harmful impacts resulting from the public release of this information and outlines ways in which teacher-performance data can be better used to responsibly serve the public interest in other ways.

The brief examines controversial situations across the country, including a high-profile case in Los Angeles, where teacher-performance ratings, known as “value-added estimates,” were released to the public by newspapers. Publishing these records led to a fierce debate about whether or not it was appropriate to make this kind of personnel information publically available.

"The public identification of teachers with value-added estimates will undermine initiatives to improve schools by hamstringing efforts to make actual classroom performance the basis for decisions affecting the career prospects of currently practicing teachers," said Diana Epstein, Senior Analyst at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the report. "In this case, less disclosure is more reform."

While the brief argues against publicly identifying teachers with value-added estimates, the authors provide the following ideas for utilizing value-added estimates in a productive manner:

  • Releasing value-added scores at the school level is appropriate and could serve valuable purposes related to transparency and accountability. Districts could aggregate value-added scores and evaluations by grade, or by school, as a component of a robust accountability system that could then be folded into the requirements of state and national accountability laws. Publicly releasing such aggregate information could play an important role in documenting whether or not highly effective teachers are equitably distributed among schools in a district and among districts in a state.
     
  • If journalists attempt to do their own analyses of value-added data, they should follow the same standards that researchers do when protecting human subjects. This means that data are de-identified and individual names are never published.
     
  • Datasets should continue to be available to researchers—whether in academic institutions or in media outlets. Such research is absolutely critical in order to develop a deeper knowledge base about value-added scores, their potential uses, and misuses that should be avoided.
     

Read the report:

Speak to the report’s authors:

  • Diana Epstein, Senior Education Policy Analyst, Center for American Progress
  • Raegen Miller, Associate Director for Education Research, Center for American Progress

Contact Katie Peters at kpeters1@americanprogress.org or 202.741.6285 to arrange an interview.

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