A New York State Supreme Court [official website] judge on Monday ruled [opinion, PDF] that the New York City Department of Education [official website] may release performance data on 12,000 city teachers. The order permits the Department of Education to comply with requests for Teacher Data Reports (TDRs) containing teacher names recently made by several media outlets under New York's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) [text]. Justice Cynthia Kern denied the United Federation of Teachers' (UFT) [advocacy website] petition to block the release on privacy grounds, finding that "courts have repeatedly held that release of job-performance related information, even negative information such as that involving misconduct, does not constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy." UFT lawyers also argued that the data should remain sealed due to concerns about its accuracy, though Kern cited precedent in ruling that information released under FOIL need not necessarily be reliable. UFT announced [press releases] its intent to appeal, and indicated that city lawyers have agreed not to release the data until the matter is resolved.
New York City employs approximately 80,000 public school teachers [official backgrounder], of whom 12,000 were included in the TDR pilot program that began during the 2007-08 academic year. The reports rely on standardized tests [official materials] to compare predicted student progress to actual improvement, attributing the difference to the effectiveness of the student's teacher after correcting for variables such as the student's poverty level and native language. TDRs have been disclosed previously under FOIL, though the releases did not include teachers' names.