The New York State Legislature voted to limit access to...

The New York State Legislature voted to limit access to teacher evaluations to parents only, giving teachers unions perhaps their biggest political victory of the last two years. Credit: AP

Some Long Island educators and school officials praised the Legislature Thursday for limiting access to teacher evaluations to parents, as others questioned the value of the ratings themselves.

"It is reasonable that if anyone has access to our evaluation results, it would be the parents of the students we are working with," said Stuart Napear, a Freeport High School math teacher and president of the Teachers Association.

Bonnie Buckley, an East Islip parent and PTA Council president, said a teacher's evaluation wouldn't influence her because she sees the rating system as subjective.

She said parents already know "who the bad teachers are. . . . The same as you know who the great teachers are."

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's bill ensures that evaluations are released only to parents and guardians. The state would post evaluation information online, but redact teachers' names.

Evaluation scores are to be calculated using standardized test results and other measures, such as classroom observation.

Because of that, Long Beach schools Superintendent David Weiss questions the validity of the evaluations.

"Tests measure student performance and not teacher performance, and the assumption that we can get a very refined measure and make that meaningful to parents is probably a false assumption," Weiss said.

Farmingdale attorney Greg Guercio, who represents many Long Island school districts, applauded the legislature for limiting access to the evaluations, but said, "from a practical standpoint I have a hard time envisioning how it will succeed."

"Once the ratings are in the hands of private citizens, there is no control over its further distribution via the Internet or otherwise," he said.

Some educators are concerned about a "morale impact" caused by release of the information, according to Vincent Lyons, regional director for New York State United Teachers' Suffolk office and a former Farmingdale teacher for 30 years.

In his teaching experience, if a parent had a concern in the classroom, they had a face-to-face conference with the parent, the teacher and an administrator, Lyons said. If a parent just receives a teacher's evaluation score, "a tremendous amount of information and insight is lost," he said.

Lyons, however, noted that the ratings will be offered for several years, so parents will get more than a "one-year snapshot" of teacher performance.

Gary Bixhorn, chief operating officer of the regional Eastern Suffolk BOCES education agency, praised the governor's bill for "protecting the real integrity of the evaluation, and using the evaluation for the purpose it was intended -- to improve performance."

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