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Mom: Ratings for my kids' teachers don't make sense

Rita Palma in her home on Feb. 13,

Rita Palma in her home on Feb. 13, 2014. Credit: John Roca

Rita Palma, a Bayport mother of three, is the first Long Island parent to obtain job-performance scores of her children's teachers and go public with those ratings.

Palma, a longtime parent activist in the Bayport-Blue Point school district, sought individual ratings for 25 teachers who instruct her teenage sons after the district posted a notice on its website that evaluations were available to parents.

State law allows parents to review the ratings of teachers who work with their children, but bans public release of such data. Teachers receive an overall rating of either highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective.

The report, which Palma obtained last month, listed all of the teachers, showing overall evaluation scores ranging from 82 to 97 out of a possible 100. Palma shared the report with Newsday on the condition that teachers' names not be published.

Eighteen of the 25 teachers, or 72 percent, scored "highly effective." That was far above the state's composite average of 49.7 percent in that category for the 2012-13 school year, released in October, and it struck Palma as high.

Some of the teachers' ratings left her feeling both puzzled and indignant, she said. The highest scorer in the group, for example, was a teacher who was denied job tenure by the school board in April and was left on probationary job status.

"Why would a teacher that is rated 'highly effective' be on tenure probation?" Palma asked. "That makes no sense."

She voiced concern that the system may not give deserving teachers their due.

Superintendent Vincent Butera and school board president Rebecca Campbell both declined to comment.

Palma felt strongly enough about the issue to fire off a memo last month to Butera and board members, seeking an explanation.

She said Butera has invited her in for a meeting on Feb. 26.

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