Los Angeles’ Villaraigosa Shows Support in Doe v Deasy Suit

Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has issued a statement about the Doe v. Deasy lawsuit that seeks to compel the Los Angeles Unified School District to include student performance data in teacher evaluation scores. Released to coincide with the hearing, the statement explains why Villaraigosa supports the position of the plaintiff: that the test scores should become one of the factors on which teacher performance is assessed.

The plaintiffs in Doe v. Deasy are alleging that the district is violating state law that requires at least bi-annual teacher evaluations that must, as part of the process, include information about student achievement. They are contending that LAUSD is not in compliance with the amendment to the Stull Act, which was co-sponsored by Villaraigosa when he was the Speaker of the California Assembly, and outlines the steps all districts in the state must take to overhaul their staff assessment programs in order to qualify for certain types of education funding. Villaraigosa contended that using student outcomes to make up a part of the rating was always one of the goals of the amendment when it passed, and that LAUSD is flaunting those provisions of the legislation.

LAUSD is one of the largest and most diverse school districts in America, and it is struggling. Only 40% of its students read at their proper grade level. Even fewer meet that benchmark in mathematics. Yet, 97% of its teachers were rated as excellent in the last round of evaluations, Villaraigosa writes. The changes to the way the district monitors student performance, introduced in the last few years makes the difference in these numbers even more stark.

Instead of using annual student test scores, which make for an unambiguous and objective metric, to recognize the achievements of promising teachers and guiding the ones falling behind, the district seems content to ignore them instead, and continue inoffensively patting its teaching staff on the back, while allowing principals to continue acting like it’s business as usual, while their students fall further and further behind.

Having a good teacher at the front of every classroom, and an excellent principal at every school, are the two best things the District can do to improve student performance.  And having an effective evaluation system – one that includes student performance – will allow the District to identify those teachers and administrators who are successful, and to provide feedback and assistance to those who need additional training and support.

The number of kids not meeting achievement benchmarks and dropping out before graduation means that it’s way past the time when a different approach is needed. Objective teacher evaluation systems, using real student achievement data, will go a long way to making sure that the district puts only the most effective instructors in front of students who need them most. This is the outcome the Doe v. Deasy lawsuit is seeking to bring about, and the goal Antonia Villaraigosa strongly supports. As part of his statement, he announced that he filed an Amicus Brief on behalf of the plaintiff.