City Hands Off Part of Teacher Evaluation Effort to the State

New York City education officials announced Thursday that they would end their effort to rank teachers based on their students’ standardized test scores, adding a surprise twist to one of the most contentious issues facing the city’s teaching force.

For the past three years, the city has produced annual performance rankings of fourth- through eighth-grade teachers, in an attempt to measure a teacher’s contribution to student achievement. Joel I. Klein, the former schools chancellor, championed the rankings, and the city has been supporting their release to the public against a teachers’ union lawsuit for the past year.

Under a new state law on teacher evaluation, however, New York State will produce similar effectiveness scores, comparing teachers across the state beginning this summer. Shael Polakow-Suransky, the city’s chief academic officer, said the new law made the city’s rankings, known as Teacher Data Reports, no longer necessary.

“Already, we’re working with the state to ensure their reports will be fair to teachers, and take account of factors like poverty and race,” Mr. Polakow-Suransky said. “This is just one of multiple measures we will use to evaluate teachers, and there’s no need to duplicate the state’s efforts.”

The city and union have been battling over the use of the Teacher Data Reports. When they were begun as a pilot program, city officials pledged to the union that they would not be used in high-stakes decisions, like termination, and that they would fight their release to the public. In their lawsuit, union officials say that dozens of reports are inaccurate, attributing the wrong students to teachers, and that they rest on invalid assumptions about how well a teacher should perform.