It's one thing to try and score teachers based on their effectiveness helping kids learn using test scores and statistical models controlling for poverty with the intention of using the data to try and target training, support improvement, or assess policies surrounding assignment and distribution of teachers across a district. It's quite another thing to release those scores to the public or go to court to get them and publish them. Rating teachers individually and releasing those numbers to the public seems to me like an invasion of privacy, like sharing someone's cholesterol level or credit rating, or annual review. Nobody does that with policemen or firefighters or even, really, with doctors. But that's what's happened twice now, in LA and New York City, accompanied by the usual arguments about the public's right to know and newspapers' ability to put numbers in context and let readers decide on their own. I don't buy any of it, really -- though as many of you know I'm not anti-testing or particularly protective of teachers.
I hope nothing like that happens in Chicago somewhere down the road. I don't think the ratings are accurate enough at the teacher level. I don't think that there's much to be gained by making the ratings public at the individual level, other than selling papers. Reformers including Wendy Kopp, Michelle Rhee, and Bill Gates have all come out against the practice. Gates called it a "capricious exercise in public shaming." The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates described "something unsavory [about] releasing admittedly flawed data, and then lecturing the public on its need to exercise caution." The NYT reported that the release of data there had become a rallying cry against the city (Teacher Ratings Produce a Rallying Cry for the Union ).