If you haven't heard the news, Teacher Data Reports are dead--gone. And good riddance. They were totally unreliable, based upon a value added formula that had an admitted margin of error of 37 percent, although the swings in individual numbers could be even higher. I have blogged about my own case, in which I went from single digits one year to the very highest ranking the next, all while teaching the same material to the same kind of kids in the same way.
The whole thing was a bloody mess, and needed to go. But the question remains--why did it go now? His Imperial Mayorness and his stooge Joel Klein couldn't wait to try to get the numbers published despite the fact that they agreed in writing to oppose any attempt to make the numbers public. In addition, the city appears poised to win the FOIL case the UFT filed to stop the numbers from coming out. Why are they suddenly so anxious to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?
The word from the DOE is that ending the TDR reports will save $200,000, which is such chump change to this mayor that it seems beyond belief that this was a cost cutting matter. No, there's more to this than meets the eye.
My own guess, which is pure speculation, is that a contract may be in the offing, and this too-little-too-late gesture is an olive branch to the union. I mean, let's face it--the DOE almost never does anything that pleases the union or its members. The DOE is to the UFT as John Boehner is to Barack Obama, i.e., whatever the latter wants, the former does the opposite.
So is the DOE dealing the UFT a winning hand on data reports to give the union cover for accepting a sub-par contract? It could be. It's likely the city wants a deal before the PERB recommendations come out, which must be about to happen some time soon.
Whatever the reason for this about-face by the city, it is a welcome one. The bad news, of course, it the state is working on its own evaluation system the will be ready in a year, and there's no guarantee that it will be any better than the system it is replacing.