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Who will get to see those teacher evals?

The state Legislature recently approved a measure that will limit the public disclosure of teacher evaluations.

Had lawmakers not put something in place, evaluations would have been subject to full public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law. What they approved restricts blanket access -- so as to avoid having newspapers publish full listings of teachers and their ratings, similar to what happened in New York City earlier this year -- but provides aggregate info to the public while also providing parents with access to information about their child's teacher.

Here is a full copy of the bill, for those of you interested in the nitty gritty. And for everyone else, here are some of the details:

The state Education Department must post aggregate teacher and principal evaluation data on its website. The idea is that you can see how teachers -- as a group -- did on their evaluations at a particular school, for example, but you cannot tell how a particular teacher did.

State Ed will be required to post the "final quality ratings" -- in other words, highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective -- and "composite effectiveness scores" -- meaning the scores out of a maximum possible score of 100 -- for groups of teachers and groups of principals.

Principal ratings and scores will be posted on a district-wide basis. Teacher ratings and scores will be posted by school, as well as "by class, by subject and grade."

In other words, the State Ed website will indicate the number or percentage of teachers in each school who were rated highly effective; the number/percentage rated effective; the number/percentage rated developing; and the number/percentage rated ineffective.

Similarly, the state will post online the number/percentage of principals in each district who received each of the four ratings.

The law clearly states that State Ed and school districts must ensure that any release of evaluation data to the public "does not include personally identifying information for any teacher or principal, provided, however, that nothing shall impair the right of parents and legal guardians to review and receive" information about their child's specific principal and teachers.

But when individual parents or guardians request information about a specific teacher or principal, they can get it.

The information they can get is limited, though, to the overall rating and composite score of "each of the teachers and for the principal of the school building for which the student is assigned for the current school year."

In other words, the parent of a fourth-grader at Futures Academy can get information about the child's fourth-grade teacher, the gym teacher, the art teacher, and so on -- but cannot get information about any other fourth-grade teacher in the school, or the fifth-grade teachers in the school -- or about any teachers or principals at any other schools.

Each school board is required to give parents and guardians "conspicuous notice" of their rights to access evaluation information.

Parents and guardians can "review and receive such data in any manner, including by phone or in person."

The law takes effect July 1, 2012.

- Mary Pasciak

facebook.com/mary.pasciak     twitter.com/MaryPasciak    mpasciak@buffnews.com

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee | djgee@buffnews.com


Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes | tlankes@buffnews.com


Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone | stan@buffnews.com


Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB | dswilliams@buffnews.com

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