From LA another round in the ongoing legal wrangling about whether teacher value addedscores should be made public and published. A court said the public interest outweighs other concerns. Legally it seems like newspapers are on firm ground in terms of their right to publish information like this. But, a more important question is whether it’s a good or useful idea to do so? There is a lot to be said for making the results of comprehensive teacher evaluations available to parents and giving them more choice about teachers (it’s one way to democratize the currently privileged flow of information at the school level) but publishing just the individual raw value-added data doesn’t seem to make a great deal of sense. There are plenty of things newspapers can legally publish but it doesn’t mean they are a good idea or productive information to publish. Editors make decisions like that all the time. The public interest would be better served by analyses of the patterns these data reveal in various communities. See, for instance, a new Mathematica analysis about teacher effectiveness and disadvantaged students (pdf)*.
*Disc – I was on a working group for this project, see page vii.