WOODBURY - Critics are questioning the effectiveness of the state teacher evaluation program because of the rosy picture painted by the numbers.

The state Department of Education released evaluation data yesterday that shows nearly all educators in Long Island's districts were given passing grades. A total of 97 percent of teachers and principals in Nassau and Suffolk received grades of either "effective" or "highly effective.”

Less than 1 percent of educators in the entire state were deemed "ineffective." In 86 of Long Island's 124 districts, not a single teacher was given an "ineffective" rating.

Former schools superintendent Michael Cohen says the evaluation system must be flawed if 86 school districts can't even find one teacher or principal who is ineffective.

"Most of us would agree that 5 percent of teachers, cops, firemen, lawyers, doctors, news reporters aren't as effective as they should be,"  Cohen says. "If we're going to use the 5 percent as a standard, than this system was an abysmal failure."

Sen. John Flanagan (R), chairman of the state Senate education committee, says he believes the numbers are an accurate reflection of teacher performance, even if the evaluation system itself isn't perfect.

Parents must contact their child's school district if they would like to see their teacher's grade.