Teacher Effectiveness Ratings to be Seen by LA Principals

For the first time, Los Angeles school principals will see previously confidential ratings that estimate teachers' effectiveness in raising students' standardized test scores, writes Jason Long at the Los Angeles Times.

District officials began issuing the ratings privately to about 12,000 math and English teachers last year and plan to issue new ones this month to about 14,000 instructors.

The scores are based on an analysis the district calls Academic Growth over Time. Each student's performance is compared with his or her own performances in past years, which largely controls for outside influences often blamed for academic failure such as poverty, prior learning and other factors, writes Long.

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy has said teachers will not be formally judged on the scores, but observers say he is trying to pressure the union by allowing principals to view the ratings.

The union is "up against a wall," said Terry Moe, a Stanford University professor whose work focuses on teachers unions. "The superintendent would be wise to promote reform now and try to push the union as far as they can go."

Over the last year the Times have been covering the analysis of district data.

UTLA President Warren Fletcher declined to discuss the district's push for a new evaluation system because negotiations are underway.

"UTLA … is working hard to find common ground," Fletcher said in a statement.

Judith Perez, the president of the administrators union, said she was unaware that principals would have access to teacher scores and that any change to evaluations would have to be agreed upon by union leaders, writes Long.

There are some signs that rank-and-file instructors want union leadership to be more aggressive about reforms, although not all agree that test scores should be linked to their evaluations.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown and other state leaders have expressed concerns that collecting more data will not lead to better education. This month, Brown vetoed a bill that would have revised the state Academic Performance Index, which rates schools based on a variety of factors. The bill could have added more factors to the index, including graduation rates.

"Adding more speedometers to a broken car won't turn it into a high-performance machine," Brown wrote.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said last week that he believes states should definitely use data to drive instruction and in evaluations.

"I think dropout rates matter. I think graduation rates matter," Duncan said while visiting Los Angeles. "We can't perpetuate the status quo."

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