Union Drops Challenge to Teacher Evaluation System in LA

Los Angeles’ teachers union has announced that its legal challenge to a pilot evaluation program has been suspended. The new evaluation proposes to include standardized test scores as part of a teacher’s performance review, writes Howard Blume at the LA Times.

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy came together with United Teachers Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher to release a statement that signals that the two sides agree that current teacher evaluation procedures need improvement:

“There are areas within the evaluation arena that are not strongly disputed and may form the beginnings of an overall agreement: for example, the use of multiple measures of performance, the use of appropriate input from parents and students, the need for teachers to contribute to the effective operations of the overall schools as well as their own classrooms, the need for improved methods of classroom performance observation and assistance, the need for greatly improved supportive measures to assist teachers to improve instruction.”

The district and the union have locked horns over the principle of linking student standardized test scores to the evaluation. While union officials accept that standardized testing is a good tool for informing instruction, they don’t believe they should be used for rating teacher quality. Deasy on the other hand, wants scores to help measure a teacher’s effectiveness.

And now, according to the joint statement, “both parties are exploring the appropriate uses of student achievement results and other student performance data within the overall evaluation process.”

The truce is thought to allow the two sides to focus on mutual interests, such as pursuing new revenue, opposing state budget cuts and saving teaching jobs. It also allows Deasy to continue testing out a new evaluation system with volunteers, without it having an effect on teachers’ jobs.

Deasy is keen to point out that he doesn’t have to negotiate what an evaluation would consist of, but the union disagrees – reserving the right to reactivate the case should talks with the district sour.

The union and district remain in litigation over other matters, including the handover of Clay Middle School to Green Dot Public Schools, an independently managed charter organization that has restaffed the school.