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U-rating numbers hold near last year’s level

August 16, 2006 am31 6:26 am

That’s the subject line on an e-mail I received from the UFT’s Communications Department.

Turns out, U’s rose from 957 in 2004 – 05 to 981 in 2005 – 06. Those numbers are flat.

But why was the e-mail sent? It’s an attempt to show that the contract we approved last Fall was not so bad.

There are numbers for U’s, and we should all be glad they did not rise appreciably. But if we want to look at the effects of the last contract, we should look at “letters to file.”

Click for —->

Our contract gave up the right to grieve letters to file. As a result, members could not challenge bad letters (even though the members usually lost). Worse, principals could write letters without wondering if they would have to defend them in a grievance.

U Observations

Unsatisfactory observations are a form of “letter to file.” They are serious, and if you get one you should speak with your Chapter Leader. It’s natural for some people to feel embarassed; this is not a reason to avoid going to your Chapter Leader. Many of us have, at one time or another, received a U Observation.

An unsatisfactory rating is much more serious. At the end of each school year you should receive a rating sheet. If your rating is not satisfactory, you must speak to your chapter leader who should send you to a specialist at your borough office.
These U-ratings, their numbers held steady. Why shouldn’t they have?

So? Did the number of letters to file increase? We don’t know. U rating stats we get (I assume) from the DoE. But we would need to get letter to file stats from our own members, through their chapters. And I doubt are chapters are strong enough, are well enough organized, to provide the data we need.

You know what needs some work?

39 Comments leave one →
  1. 17 more years permalink
    August 16, 2006 pm31 7:03 pm 7:03 pm

    I don’t necessarily care for the UFT’s spin on “U” ratings. If you look at the article from the New York Post (, it states, “Notably, tenured teachers have been increasingly making up a larger percentage of unsatisfactory or “u-rated” teachers. Tenured teachers comprised roughly 68 percent of the u-rated instructors last year, compared to nearly 58 percent three years earlier.” This only proves to me that administration, under advisement from the DOE, will increasingly look to target more experienced (translation: higher paid) teachers. This is a dangerous pattern, and I fear that, in years to come, anyone over 40, with more than 10 years in, is grist for the mill in the eyes of overzealous, Leadership Academy principals.

  2. August 16, 2006 pm31 8:38 pm 8:38 pm

    17 more…

    You make a good point. The trend towards tenured teachers getting U’ed, if it is real (keep the source in mind. The NYPost publishes both fiction and non-fiction in its news pages), would be very worrying.

    Here’s a fun question: Why is this number news? Is it pure spin, or is it in some way interesting or valuable?

  3. norm permalink
    August 17, 2006 am31 9:57 am 9:57 am

    Anecdotally, the U-rating figures seem to indicate a big jump. Here’s just a few items:
    The school I used to teach at now with a Leadership Acad Principle that gave out 7 U’s this year. This is a small elem school with maybe 40 teachers.
    At one HS, the Socl Studies Dept alone had 4 U’s.
    I hear that some deals are being made with new untenured teachers in some places — resign and you won’t get the U.
    Rubber room are overflowing. The Region4/5 RR had a count of about 60-70 people alone and there are 6 rubber rooms I believe. Not all are U’s.

  4. August 20, 2006 pm31 1:57 pm 1:57 pm


    In Queens the rubber room is so crowded that I know teachers that were sent to Brooklyn instead. As for the “U” ratings one U is not a problem and to win on appeal in the DOE kangaro court is almost impossible. It’s when you get two consecutive “U” ratings that is the problem, then the DOE can go after the teacher’s license. However, for DOE to go after the teacher’s license they would need to present evidence to an independent hearing officer that the teacher is incompetent, not an easy thing to prove.

  5. September 26, 2006 am30 7:30 am 7:30 am

    I would like to know how to fight the union representatives who caused me to lose my job by not handling my case in the timely manner alloted. Since 2004 they didn’t even get back in touch with me to go through a greivance process, I was just told most recently by human resources administrator then that must mean I was terminated. I worked for 18 years as a special ed teacher and because a Principal lied on me I was given a DWN rating which is abandoning my so called position. The funny part about that position I had to sit in the auditorium for 7 months because the Principal didn’t want to place me. Tell me something does anyone know a way to fight this I was cheated out of my job, my pension rights and am at a lost. I do so want to try and handle this legally I just don’t have the money but if anyone knows something, please feel free to write back. I have been trying to get back at least to finish to retire.

  6. September 26, 2006 pm30 10:41 pm 10:41 pm

    I e-mailed a message earlier and realized I left the wrong e-mail address, so I’m writing it again if this is not the right medium to voice my concern please tell me so. It goes like this-I would like to know how to fight the union representatives who caused me to lose my job by not handling my case in the timely manner allotted? Since the year 2004 I haven’t even gone through a greivance process or hearing, they didn’t even get back in touch with me. I worked for 18 years as a special ed teacher, the Principal lied on me I was given a DWN rating for a teaching when I wasn’t even teaching. If anyone knows a way to fight this even after 2 years please e-mail me.

  7. September 27, 2006 am30 3:50 am 3:50 am


    what a horrible sounding story.

    I don’t know how to advise you, except to seek every possible remedy within the UFT.

    After that, I am sorry, I just don’t know.

  8. September 27, 2006 am30 10:43 am 10:43 am

    comment was already typed,hoping for a reply.

  9. September 27, 2006 am30 10:53 am 10:53 am

    I wrote the above message before I realized someone had responded. Thank you for listening, really Thank You.

  10. Tracey permalink
    December 29, 2007 pm31 5:28 pm 5:28 pm

    No disrespect, but your story does not really make sense you must clarify: first of all, what were you doing if you wasn’t teaching? How and when did you end up in a school’s auditorium? Were you removed from the classroom? How and why did this situation even begin? You said you was a special education teacher at the time of the “incident” of unfairness, what exactly was your position, or what were you doing if you were not teaching? Was your rating given at the end of the year as an annual rating, because from what I know all you can get is a U, D (only if you are ending your first year) or an S. A “NA” can be given to some teachers who are removed and are sitting in the “rubber room”. You stated that you “loss your job” so this infers that you had not been in a state in which you had resignated.

  11. December 29, 2007 pm31 9:07 pm 9:07 pm

    I doubt the person is still reading, the comments were from over a year ago.

    Tracey, you are right that the story makes little sense, but that’s the DoE.

    I think the person says that she was denied a program, and informally told to sit in the auditorium. I have heard similar stories. After some time, the principal had her terminated for abandoning her position, while she was doing what he told her to. It wouldn’t be the first time this year I’ve heard about a principal proceeding against an employee without informing them.

    It’s very hard to know without being closer. But without information to the contrary, believe the teacher.

  12. Terry permalink
    January 3, 2008 am31 6:52 am 6:52 am

    Could anyone tell me if they have heard of any teacher taking a leave of absence during the year and it negatively impacting their end of the year rating?

    Could an administrator give a teacher a U-rating if they took a 7 month leave of absence within the year for restoration of health?

  13. Terry permalink
    January 3, 2008 am31 6:55 am 6:55 am

    A friend of mine is really upset because she recieved a letter to file from her principal. The letter was a verbal abuse accusation. She believes that the principal coaxed the child into making the accusation. Can this one letter alone make her principal be able to give her a U-rating for the year, even though at this point in January she has no observation reports. Or does it depend on what she was accused of saying to the child?

  14. Terry permalink
    January 3, 2008 am31 6:59 am 6:59 am

    This is why I am looking forward to pursuing a nursing career!! My nurse friends do not have any of the stories that NYCDOE teachers have. Yeah their backs and feet hurt sometimes, but honey I’d rather that!!

  15. January 6, 2008 pm31 10:41 pm 10:41 pm

    Terry, I don’t know the answers to your questions. Your friend needs to take them to her Chapter Leader, who will likely need to contact either the District Rep or a specialist to get good answers.

    Someone’s job is on the line; it would be wrong of me to guess at answers.

  16. Anonymous permalink
    January 28, 2008 am31 5:56 am 5:56 am

    Yes, principal can give you a U rating based upon one incident. It happened to me last school year, recently administrators u rated me for lesson observation and told me that I will get u rating for the year. That will be the 2 consecutive U ratings in my 20 years unblemish services. I guess then they can bring 4030-a process against me, but really there are not much I can do about it.

  17. Nia permalink
    February 1, 2008 am29 1:31 am 1:31 am

    I received a U rating for one for being late 32 times. I didn’t think it was that much, perhaps 8 to be exact. I mentioned my time cards had been doctored and I appealed. The U rating was immediately changed!

  18. Terry permalink
    March 27, 2008 am31 5:04 am 5:04 am

    Isn’t it called 3020 proceedings? I know that there is a sharp rise in the numbers of verbal abuse allegations! The reason for this is that it just takes one to give a teacher a U-rating. This is what should be investigated instead of just investigating the rise of U-ratings. I heard of one incident where a principal accused a teacher of justing raising his voice, and wrote him up for verbal abuse allegations.
    This is crazy all the principal has to do is do this once a year to him and he has no job, because then he would have 2 U-ratings!!
    What really makes me sick is the passivity of us teachers!!
    We need to be like the NYC Transit workers. They don’t play! They stick together and will all walk off of their jobs, go to jail, march to the Supreme Court for justice!! Your average NYC Transit worker and Sanitation workers have much less education than we have, but they have a better contract, get more respect because they demand it, and can stay on their jobs until they are 65 years old if they want to.
    Our union is one of the largest in this country, but also one of the weakest!!
    I think the dumbest thing we did was give away our rights to fight unfair letters to file. Crazy!! I remember being the only teacher I knew that did not want this latest contract. We did this all for the new raise of 100,000 a year after 20 years. Honey, most of us ain’t gonna get that!! Job security is most important. With this new contract they could kick most of us out of the system with little effort in a short amount of time.
    If someone said to you, “I will fill your home with the finest Ethan Allen furniture, but only under one condition; you cannot protect it, you cannot put a lock on the door!” Would you take it? Not I!!
    What is most important to me is to protect what I have earned and what is rightfully mine!!

  19. Terry permalink
    March 27, 2008 am31 5:11 am 5:11 am

    Nia, Honey, I bet you they changed that fast!! You are smart!! Most of us need to fight back, talk up, and show up these venal corrupt people.
    They are lucky you did not take that to court!! You would have won $$$ bif time!! Because if you had “doctored” a document, (like they did your time card) such as let’s say a doctor’s note, they would call in the Office of Special Investigations to investigate you, and put real criminal charges on you!!

  20. anthony H. permalink
    May 22, 2008 am31 4:05 am 4:05 am

    Does anyone know how it works if an untenured teacher gets a “U” for attendance? I recieved “S” ratings for my observations this year, but because of absences and latenesses, I will be receiving a “U.” Any feedback would be helpful.

    P.S. My absences and latenesses are due to a medically-documentged chronic condition.

  21. Terry permalink
    May 28, 2008 am31 3:06 am 3:06 am

    First of all, are you getting a U for attendance? or a U for the year as
    an overall grade? If you are getting a U for an overall grade because
    of attendance, here is what is going to be most important in overturning the U:
    1) How grave your medical condition is will be the main factor that will determine if you can overturn any U rating.
    2) Secondly, document…document…document…what is extremely
    important here is documentation. Even on days that you come to work and you are sick people…. DOCUMENT IT!! THIS REALLY PUTS ICING ON THE CAKE WHEN YOU ARE TRYING TO OVERTURN THEIR B.S. U RATING!!
    If you can prove that you have a disability, honey the NYCDOE ain’t gonna mess with you, you are not worth it, when you drag their behinds to court……Also, early on in the year when you see that your lateness and absences are excessive for that point in the year you must begin to cover yourself by filling out a FLMA fORM for these days.This is the Family Leave Act, it is not just for your family members, (this is what many teachers think) honey it is for you to, if you are sick. They would be scared out of their wits to U rate you when they see you fill this form out TRUST ME !!…you must cover yourself and ask questions early on in the game when you know your ship is sinking….don’t look for answers in practically the month of May or June. The Family Medical Leave Act is what President Clinton
    did for us when he was President(the only good thing he did for us, and what he still brags about!! This is leave given to you by the
    Federal Government, if you are approved which it is (12 weeks
    consecutive or intermittently) the NYCDOE can touch you!!
    Finally, if you are really having a hard time medically and you know that you can’t make it and you will get messed up because of your condition, take a leave of absence, you can take a sabbatical leave of absence if you qualify… a proactive thinker….we all must really be alert…especially since we know that we all are targets no matter how good or how bad of a teacher we are…..these days, a little bit of paranoia will help a NYCDOE teacher a great deal!!

  22. Terry permalink
    May 28, 2008 am31 3:09 am 3:09 am

    In my second to last paragraph I meant “the NYCDOE can’t, cannot touch you if you file a FMLA form, and it is approved, I left out the apostrophe “t”!

  23. Terry permalink
    May 30, 2008 am31 6:15 am 6:15 am

    Dear #16-Anonymous-January 28th, 2008….This is what you must do to overturn the two U’s that you have gotten this year and last year. YOU MUST GO TO THE DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FILE A COMPLAINT ON AGE DISCRIMINATION…..YOU U WILL BE OVERTURNED IN TWO TO SIX MONTHS. You say that you have an
    unblemished record….It is obvious that that do not want to pay you
    that high income…and I know it is high because you have 20 years behind you…..don’t go out like that…….you must go down fighting,
    if you are going to go down…..your attitude of “what can I do about it, oh nothing” is the reason why teachers get picked on!! we cannot encourage the losers, who administrate us, and who could even teach their way out of a paper bag to humiliate us…..this is why I really think every person, or virtually every person in those rubber rooms should file a law suit!! If each person in the rubber room filed a 3 million dollar lawsuit, it would come to a billion dollars and honey that would hit the news…..this is what we need to do…..STOP THE HARASSMENT BY ACTIVELY FIGHTING THESE LOSERS!!

    • Anonymous permalink
      June 30, 2011 pm30 9:37 pm 9:37 pm

      Please provide any further information about filing for age discrimination with the State Division of Human Rights. I am under the same situation. My principal abuses its position. Both administrators target me throughout the year. there is bullying, psychological abuse
      Please provide further information. HOw can I prove that this is age discrimination? The union says that getting a u is not age discrimination.

  24. Craig permalink
    June 26, 2008 am30 7:46 am 7:46 am

    Here’s a story from the sewer that is the home of the substitute teacher. I have a bachelor’s degree in childhood education and initial certification. Unfortunately, most of the schools want a Master’s so getting the 3 years of experience that is required for permanent certification is hard. I decided to try subbing in order to pay my bills and to build up a good reputation with several schools.

    Sounds like a good idea, right? WRONG!! It started off great, sure I ran into the usual problems of subs such as spitballs and nasty students, but altogether it was a good experience until I ran into one principal who thinks she’s God or something.

    I was called by subcentral to work at a school in Manhattan. When I got to the school I was told to report to the SAVE room (In order to work in the SAVE room you need special training due to the nature of the students that are sent to these rooms, needless to say I did not have this training). When I entereed the room there were just two students there. Since their regular teachers had not sent any assignments in with them, I gave them an assignment from a bag of lessons that I carry with me. Since I was working with only 2 students I was able to give them a lot of attention. Then lunchtime came. After lunch I returned to the room to find that the population had increased greatly, there were now between 20 and 30 students in the room. These students, however, had assignments, mostly math assignments. (I had given the two morning students an ELA assignment) I decided to attempt to help these students with their assignments, for a while everything was going well, then I came to one student who was having a particularly tough time with his assignment. While I was working with him, one of my students from the morning crew decided he needed my attention. I told him I’d be with him in a minute. Aparrently that didn’t satisfy him as he continually called me. After a while the student I was working with finally got his problem, so I decided to see what it was that my morning student wanted.

    I walked over to him and asked him what his problem he said, “Fuck you!” I sternly told him to “Get up!” He apologized for his actions but didn’t rise from his seat. I repeated my request to him, at this time my intention was to accept his apology, but I never got to do that as the principal was walking through the hall at this time and overheard me. She took me out of the room and severely reprimanded me, saying that what I had done constituted “corporal punishment in my book.” I did not strike nor did I intend to strike the student. After the scolding was over I returned to the room. At this point the student who had cursed at me said “Ha, Ha, you got in trouble.” I chose to ignore him and continued through the day.

    That was back in March of 2007. I went through the rest of the school year with a number of assignments never thinking about that incident until the following September when the new school year started and I found I could not logon to subcentral. You guessed it I had a U rating. I went through all the proper channels and filed an appeal. On the day of the appeal the principal decided to lie and say that she had said “verbal abuse.” My representative had advised me to not mention “corporal punishment” unless she did. Since she didn’t mention it, neither did I.

    A few months later I got the results of my appeal. My “U” rating was sustained “as a consequence of poor classroom management” I went down to the UFT and asked them for advice and found out that my license is being considered for removal, and that I am on the ineligible list.

    I am presently working on a Master’s degree in Special Education, that means that $40,000.00 in student loans is going down the drain. My marriage is in trouble and I have no source of income to support myself, my wife and my two kids as a result of this. My wife is considering helping me sue the DOE for the loan money if this license removal makes it impossible to get my degree or to use it once I get it. Us subs get screwed by the students, the principals, the DOE and the UFT. Everybody else needs 2 U rating to lose their license, all we need is 1 and it doesn’t need to be for a a crime. All I did was raise my voice to a student. WHERE IS THE MENTORING OF NEW TEACHERS THAT THEY TALK ABIOUT SO MUCH?????

  25. Terry permalink
    June 30, 2008 pm30 3:17 pm 3:17 pm

    Dear Craig;
    I am glad you put your story up. Doing this helps all of us. Now I know that subs go through the same thing that regular teachers go through. Now, I am trying to figure out what is the ultimate goal of the NYCDOE, why did they target you? You are not a regular teacher who is moving up the pay scale. This story totally boggles my mind!
    I really have to “think this one out” cause I am trying to figure out
    what is the plan and purpose for the NYCDOE doing this.
    If I were you I would change my educational and vocational, professional plan quick. If you are getting a Master’s in Special Education continue to do that and remember that there are other
    jobs in or relating to special education not just in the city, but also in the state. You can also become a counselor, and rerailroad your
    career into the correctional area, and counsel in the jail system. This may be a blessing in disquise. You are better off than many of us who already spent more than $40,000 on our careers, and already dedicated years of effort to getting so many different types of licenses to work in the NYCDOE. Try to use your special education license in other areas, it comes in handy in other facets. You can work in a group home for any state, working with youngsters. You may want to go into psychology….etc, etc, I think you are lucky because this nonesense happen to you early on before you put even more effort, years, and money into it…..
    If nonesense had happen to me when I was a sub, I would be in a better position now, I wish I had got my wakeup call earlier in my career, when I was a substitute teacher!

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 26, 2012 pm31 9:10 pm 9:10 pm

      Heyi don’t know if you will read this but I am so curious to know what happened to you? Did you sue the doe?

  26. Anonymous permalink
    July 3, 2008 am31 9:25 am 9:25 am

    I’m a first year teacher who got a U rating this year. I heard that if you get a U rating you are stuck at your current pay rate until the following year. Is this true? And if the U is overturned in the appeal process then is my salary retroactive?

  27. Norm J. permalink
    July 6, 2008 pm31 5:23 pm 5:23 pm

    Hi all. I’m a first-year teacher in NYC (third year overall) who received a U rating for 2 verbal abuse allegations — from a principal who never observed my class all year. Obviously I will appeal, but does this screw my career in terms of finding a gig in the whole state of NY? Should I even bother looking?

  28. July 6, 2008 pm31 6:56 pm 6:56 pm

    If you have a U rating (on your year-end rating sheet) you MUST contact your UFT borough office. They have specialists who work specifically on U-ratings. I cannot give advice – I just don’t know, and this stuff is far too serious to risk making mistakes.

    I don’t know what happens to your step if you get a U. I recall hearing something, but do not know.

    A U affects tenured and non-tenured teachers differently. Call to find out more.

    And, at least for tenured teachers, a first U is different from another U. Again, please call your borough office and ask for a U-rating specialist.

    Borough Office numbers:
    Bronx 718-379-6200
    Brooklyn 718-852-4900
    Manhattan 212-598-6800
    Queens 718-275-4400
    Staten Island 718-605-1400

  29. Norm J. permalink
    July 6, 2008 pm31 9:42 pm 9:42 pm

    Thanks JD. I filed the appeal with the UFT — they said since the principal checked off that she recommends my probationary service be discontinued, I will get a termination letter over the summer. Even if I appeal, it will take months and I won’t be able to work in NYC. I was hoping that someone would know what I can expect to happen next or if there are any other actions I can take now (like getting out of Education). Not sure if it’s worth getting a lawyer…

  30. MSED permalink
    September 2, 2008 am30 5:47 am 5:47 am

    I was a sub and I got one U rating and this froze me out of NYC teaching. I am a change of career indvidual. I owe 40000 for my masters and I find it very difficult to find work. I am a certified earth science teacher and I was offered 2 jobs in NYCBOE but the job offers were taken back after the U rating was found out. If I knew how political education is I would of taken a masters in enviornmental science instead of education. By the way you can find work teaching if you are not to patricular about travel and pay. By the way the just dont reverse a u rating

  31. Urating permalink
    October 7, 2008 am31 2:57 am 2:57 am

    In reference to #30….. You need to talk to the UFT. As a sub, you are not froze out of nyc teaching for just 1 U rating unlesss you were working there 20 consecutive days- so basically you need to CALL THE UFT and you need to basically go through a hearing and the U rating may be taken off your record.

  32. M.... permalink
    January 2, 2009 am31 11:40 am 11:40 am

    I received a U rating after 23 years of satisfactory observations (except for one in 1996 when a scumbag administrator criticized me for my uneven blinds in the classroom). I am not alone in this…I have several colleagues who are in the same boat. I am going to have my appeal this month, and would like to know more about the process…what I should say/not say etc…my ace in the hole if things are not going well is that my immediate supervisor recruited a student “spy” to report on what I am doing in the classroom (he tells me everything, because my students are loyal to me). She also has done an inordinate amount of walkthroughs in which she helps herself to the paperwork on my desk.
    I think I will do well on the appeal … I once asked her why I did not receive “4” on the observation for some items that I am clearly a “4.” She smugly replied that she doesn’t give out “4s.” This was a lie, since in the previous year, I received a “4” from her. She has done this to former colleagues of mine, but she will not do it to me…I plan on burying her with the spy thing…
    Yes…as stated in previous posts, don’t let them do this to us! These cretans, especially the ones coming out of the leadership academy, are the lowest form of people I have ever worked for. They offer no sound professional suggestions, have zero people skills, are mean-hearted, impersonal and egotistical…teaching does not even look anything like what it used to.

  33. Lucky Star permalink
    January 3, 2009 pm31 7:32 pm 7:32 pm

    Good luck to you with your U rating appeal ! I honestly and truly wish you all the best with this situation, and I must say that I believe that you are going to be successful with your appeal. After all, I believe that Chancellor Klein, whether he likes it or not, is going to have to overturn a whole slew of U ratings by virtue of the fact that many of these U ratings have been given by school adminstrators who are themselves deemed to be totally incompetent by the NYCDOE’s own accountability measures (i.e. school Progress Reports ; school closing announcements; the new 2008-2009 Quality Reviews)

  34. To all the people who are having trouble relating to U-ratings... permalink
    January 12, 2009 am31 8:32 am 8:32 am

    To all the people who are having trouble relating to U-ratings, critical letters in the file, U-observation reports, unreasonable supervisors, etc., check out, and then contact its editor, Betsy Combier. Her E-mail is

    Here’s a video of Betsy speaking at a meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy:

    Betsy is truly fabulous!

    Good luck!

  35. snel76 permalink
    December 7, 2009 pm31 8:23 pm 8:23 pm

    Appealing the u rating is a joke not to say a lie. The UFT representatitves don’t really help. I went to an appeal session, i was surprised that the UFT rep was asking me questions about the u rating at the table, she didn t have the chance to look at the file before the session. It was a huge mistake to get into the nyc school system. I have been there, i have seen how the system can broil a young teacher. I lost my license, now i have to fight to survive with whatever job i can grab in this messy recession.

  36. June 12, 2013 pm30 10:30 pm 10:30 pm


  37. June 12, 2013 pm30 11:08 pm 11:08 pm


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