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New Yorkers don’t trust teacher grading: Poll

A sign referring to teacher ratings is hung along a parade route in Rockaway last month, echoing the message of one former Bayside teacher. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

City teachers might be as anxious as their students to make the grade now that public school teacher evaluations are public , but one retired Bayside teacher said making the report cards available online was an unfair and unnecessary measure.

“You can’t throw teachers under the bus,” said Michael Feiner, president of the Bayside Hills Civic Association and a former city teacher for nearly 35 years. “They’re too important. They teach our population and it’s very shameful to do this.”

Earlier this year, the city Department of Education released the controversial teacher data reports, which were collected over the last three school years and gave a numeric grade to nearly 18,000 fourth-through-eighth-grade teachers.

Though these reports were originally intended to be internally circulated to measure how teachers helped students and identify strengths and weaknesses, the DOE was required by law to release the evaluations after several media outlets sued to have them made public in 2010.

According to a poll released by Quinnipiac University, 46 percent of New York City voters said teacher evaluations were flawed in some way, while 20 percent said they trusted the results. More than half of the parents of public school students also said the evaluations were inaccurate.

“Those teacher evaluation rankings are suspect, voters think,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “But whatever their opinion of the validity of the numbers, voters would reward high scorers.”

The scores should also translate into more money in the teachers’ wallets, the study said. According to the results, 54 percent of city voters said teachers with higher grades should get more money, while 55 percent of voters said low-scoring teachers should not be fired for their marks.

Feiner said grades could be easily misunderstood and tarnish the reputations of teachers in the city.

“It’s unhealthy for this city’s teachers to be embarrassed, disappointed, let down and mistreated like that,” he said.

As a former teacher who started in the 26th School District in northeast Queens, Feiner said that after reading the grades that were released earlier this year, he empathized with the feelings of many of his former colleagues.

“I felt so terrible that I started giving hugs to principals and teachers,” Feiner said. “I know some people say I shouldn’t get involved anymore. But it still hits me.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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