Gerritsen Beach school protests teacher data reports

School protest: Students like Kayla Jones tied ribbons to the fence outside of PS 277 in Gerritsen Beach to protest the controversial teacher data reports.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Teachers at PS 277 think they’re better than the city’s data suggests.

Outraged educators, students, and parents tied symbolic blue ribbons to the fence in front of the Gerritsen Beach school on March 5 in a show of support for PS 277’s fourth and fifth grade teachers, whose performance evaluations — known as teacher data reports — that were published by the city last month came up lacking.

The controversial reports ranked 12,000 public school teachers in grades four through eight based on their students’ scores on state math and English tests during a three year period leading up to 2010.

Three of the six PS 277 teachers who were rated received ratings of 80 or higher out of a possible 100 points for reading and math — but the rest had subpar stats that educators at the A-rated school say don’t reflect the school’s standing.

“Our teachers are better than the grades they received,” said Margaret Foti, PS 277’s Parent Association president. “We know that we have wonderful teachers here, but unfortunately, now they’ll be judged by these scores.”

Fifth-grade teacher Joyce Verderosa, a teacher’s union rep who organized the ribbon protest, said that she was flabbergasted over her poor math grade because she says her students routinely score above-average on state tests.

“It’s demoralizing,” said Verderosa, who got a solid reading grade. “We work so hard.”

Supporters say the reports give the city an important tool to evaluate teachers. But critics who unsuccessfully sued the city to keep the stats private claim the numbers don’t take into account other factors that help to determine a teacher’s success.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

Sisterhood of discontent: Katerina and Callie Vafias said the teacher data reports were unfair to their favorite teachers at PS 277 on Gerritsen Avenue.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

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