Most New York City Teachers ‘Satisfactory’

Nearly all New York City public school teachers received passing grades for their performance in the last academic year, though the small portion with unacceptable work continued to rise, the city said on Tuesday.

Just 2.7 percent of the city’s roughly 78,000 teachers were graded “unsatisfactory” for the 2010-11 school year. The only other possible grade is satisfactory.

The percentage of teachers who got a “U” rating, as an unsatisfactory is called, roughly equaled the percentage who were denied tenure this year, suggesting the percentage of truly bad teachers in the school system may be similar across experience levels.

Teachers are considered for tenure after three years of teaching. Of the 5,100 teachers up for tenure this year, 2.9 percent were denied it.

And as with tenure denials, which were virtually unheard of five years ago, the percentage of teachers with unsatisfactory ratings has been creeping up. In 2005-6, less than one percent received “U” grades; in 2009-10, 2.3 percent did.

The city is starting to test a new system for annual teacher evaluations that would place teachers in one of four categories: ineffective, developing, effective and highly effective, based in part on student test scores. The city began to use similar rules this school year in tenure decisions, but the union must agree before all evaluations can switch to the new system.

Tenured teachers who get unsatisfactory ratings can be brought up on formal charges, but it remains rare for teachers to be dismissed for incompetence. In 2009-10, 32 tenured teachers were terminated for any reason, including incompetence, criminality and other impropriety.

For its part, the United Federation of Teachers, the city teachers’ union, hailed the results. “The number of U-ratings confirms,” said Michael Mulgrew, the union president, that “we have one of the best workforces in the country.”

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