Recently there has been a great deal of press about the recent releasing of the ratings and/or rankings of New York City teachers. I’m sure that whoever decided to do this can articulate some very sound reasons, most of them having to do with accountability and transparency.
But it’s a bad idea. In fact, I saw one headline that even Bill Gates, one of the loudest advocates of extensive and open teacher evaluation, disagrees with the move. I don’t know his exact reasons.
I suspect release of this information will foment far more consternation than it will add any value. I could give you all sorts of arguments, most of which I’ve presented in more depth at other times throughout the course of this blog. So I won’t launch into an extensive manifesto about the limits of educational data, the problems with the instruments, how what truly matters can’t be measured, et cetera. These reasons are all legitimate, but I believe that the issue is something much more basic.
I don’t believe very much consensus exists on the value and purpose of education. And I don’t know that there ever will be. In trying to force together that puzzle, we have to grapple with two difficult questions and try to reach simple answers. What is the purpose of school? What should be the purpose of school? Ideally, the answers would match. In reality…
How would you answer those questions?