LAUSD Withholds Teacher Names from Evaluation Scores

The Los Angeles Unified School District has calculated confidential “academic growth over time” ratings that judge the effectiveness in raising student performance for about 12,000 math and English teachers last year. Though the district will not release the names of teachers and their scores, writes Jason Song at the LA Times.

By analyzing student’s performance on several years of standardized tests and estimate a teacher’s role in raising or lowering student achievement, the scores are equated. The district has issued new scores this fall to about 14,000 instructors and their principals.

The system has been echoed across the country, with school districts throughout the country have been adopting similar approaches. These have been labeled as “value-added ratings”, and has become a popular measure of teacher effectiveness.

The Times published a series of articles last summer based on value-added analysis, and since, L.A. Unified began calculating scores for teachers. And while the Times have published their scores, the district is less keen to do so.

“The potential harm to privacy interests from disclosure outweighs the public interest in disclosure,” said David Holmquist, the district’s general counsel, in a letter to The Times.

Holmquist cited that it could cause jealousy among teachers and lead to poor school morale. Public release of the sensitive figures could further harm teachers’ ability to get future jobs and that parents could demand instructors with high ratings, leading to unbalanced classrooms.

But after publishing their own, the newspaper filed a California Public Records Act request for the district’s own results. Kelli Sager, an attorney representing The Times, said:

“At this point, we have not received any records from LAUSD, so it is unclear what they are saying they will provide. We have ample authority that supports The Times’ request for documents, and if LAUSD refuses to provide them, we will have no choice but to seek a court order requiring them to do so.”

L.A. Unified has agreed, in principle, to release the scores — but without teachers’ names.

L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy wants to include the ratings as one component in teachers’ confidential evaluations. But United Teachers Los Angeles has steadfastly opposed using test scores to rate teachers effectiveness.