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Union says L.A. teacher evaluations are irresponsible. Do you agree?


"It is the height of journalistic irresponsibility."

That's how the United Teachers Los Angeles described the Los Angeles Times' decision to publish a database of about 6,000 third- through fifth-grade city school teachers ranked by their effectiveness in raising student test scores.

TalkBackLAThe database is part of a Times series that rated teachers by using a "value-added" analysis based on seven years of standardized test scores obtained from the Los Angeles Unified School District. The value-added method looks at previous student test performance and estimates how much a teacher added to or subtracted from a student's expected progress.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, had asked The Times not to publish the database. In an interview Sunday on ABC's "This Week," she criticized the paper for using value-added scores in "isolation." In a later statement, she said the union is "disturbed that teachers will now be unfairly judged by incomplete data masked as comprehensive evaluations."

In the video above, Times Database Editor Doug Smith explains how the database was put together and addresses criticism generated by it.

What do you think? Share your views below.

Comments () | Archives (54)

They need to break up LAUSD. It's too big.

Of course I agree that test scores are a ridiculous way to measure a teacher's worth. There are so many reasons why:
-There are many factors that go into a child's performance beyond just the teacher, such as the child's social-economic status, prior knowledge, and maturity of thinking and abilities.
-Focusing on the standards for a test diminishes the time spent teaching other valuable information in content areas that do not appear on the test.
-School has a great deal to do with socialization, learning to work with others, learning how to express and control emotions, and learning how to deal with the trauma that too many of our children experience. The best teachers take time to deal with these concepts on a class-wide and personal level. These are not measured by test scores.
-Standards-based testing creates high-pressure situations that even second graders feel the impact of. This leads to a belief that it is not the knowledge and understanding that is important, it is the grades and scores. This leads to many problems within the education system, such as cheating and disillusionment.
-Frankly, there are mean, unorganized, bad teachers whose students perform well on tests, and there are loving, knowledgeable, motivating teachers whose students, for whatever reason, perform poorly on tests. Which teacher would you rather your child have?

They teachers work for the tax payers and as their employers we have a right to evaluate them. More than a right it's a duty to find out which teachers are doing their job...teaching. If they are failing they need to be let go. That's how it works in the real world.

If the UTLA does not like it, let them give us their ranking which teachers are effective.

All the unions want is to be paid their dues from incompetent teachers. All teachers should be rated at least once a year. If they are ineffective then send them to training. Repeat failures should be fired. That would make the teachers that are lazy start doing their job correctly and educate our next generation. Of course, the union will step in and cry about it, saying things like, why should our teachers be held accountable for not doing their job?

Everyone respects teachers because we all had one of those special teachers that were great but we also had horrible teachers. Given the sorry state of public education, sorry teachers union, but your irresponsible. The Teachers Union is only good for teachers, at the cost of everyone else especially the kids. Several years of test scores, is a reasonable way to evaluate teachers. The Union wants to hide, stop, delay all progress or improvement. Whats more important, students(kids) or teachers?
If you choose teachers, don't change anything, just leave as is. But if you choose the kids and our future, yearly test data, tenure etc... must go. Also, i wouldn't mind increase in teachers pay to attract better quality people and to reward success and punish failure.

P.S. I would hope if we chose

Teacher evaluations must include testing results IN PART. However, peer, mentor and other observations must also be included. I do not believe that these VAM scores should be released on a data base for public consumption. Where are the VAM scores or data for the administrators? for the parents? How do we measure the value of education within the communtiy? the family?

I agree that the information should be available to the parents of the school in which the teachers work, but I don't think it should be published for the public.

Perhaps the teachers think the public is too stupid (or poorly educated!) to understand the evaluations?

This "value added" doesnt account for the countless m&m and skittle strategy to testing that goes on at many of these so called most effective schools. I read the names of teachers at a school where I know some of the teachers and have observed them and for some reason, the most effective teacher was a surprise to me and everybody else that knows her!!!!!unless you are in the profession you dont have an understanding of the complexity of teaching and the different assignments teachers have

The Teachers Union is what's wrong with education in this State. Like all Public Sector Unions, they are sucking the life blood out of our economy and delivering horrible dividends...50%+ drop out rate and student test scores that are the joke of the world! Are you serious?! Stack rank 'em and fire the bad ones! What's so difficult to understand about that?

The first politician to recommend the L.A.U.S.D to be broken up into its component districts will get my (as well as many others) votes.

I remember when I was in El Camino College and my professor had me do a report on the virtues of the teacher's union. If I wanted a good grade, I had to regurgitate his pro-union propaganda. For 40 years, the teacher's union has been blaming everyone but themselves for the poor quality of California education while demanding more and more money. In the real world, if you do a poor job, you get less money or you get fired. But in academia, once you have tenure, you can do anything - or nothing. I'm tired of the teacher's union holding our children hostage to their greed. I would like to see the teaching unions dissolved or teachers prohibited from striking and contributing to PAC's. I would also like to see teachers graded and their grades posted on-line and in newspapers. Finally, I would like to give Principals the right to fire under-achieving teachers and Superintendents the power to fire under-achieving Principals.

Wouldn't we all want a job without accountability or performance evaluations and where seniority was the only basis upon which to differentiate between employeees. That, however, only exists in government.

I'm so tired of hearing teachers whine about their jobs. It seems there is always something to complain about; pay, students and/or how they're evaluated. If you don't like your job then do something else. If you don't like they way you're evaluated then suggest something else that makes sense. There are too many schools that are failing their students and in my opinion the teachers are partially too blame.

I applaud the LA Times for posting the evaluations if for nothing else than to shine a spotlight on the issue of poor performing teachers.

I think public posting was a mistake that will cause endless problems between teachers and with the parents. It is a good idea that the scores be used in teacher evaluations by the principals and review boards as a basis for improvement (not firing) and in conjunction with other measures. I think there will be some resignations by otherwise good teachers - and there could actually be a suicide as a result of this public humiliation.

If teachers feel its unfair to use a test score to rate themselves, why is it OK for students to be graded by tests such as STAR?

Once unionistas, always unionistas. What's good for the union is good. The rest of you... we don't care about the rest of you.

What a loaded headline: "Union says L.A. Teacher Evalutations are Irresponsible." Is it that extreme to think that evaluations based on only one type of evalutation are irresponsible? The union is merely saying that it does not agree with using the test scores as the sole factor in evaluations. They already do teacher evalutations and they've made it clear that they are willing to treat these "Value-Added Scores" as a part of the evaluation process. Good job LA Times on getting them to adopt a new tool in their arsenal to get rid of bad teachers, but don't think that this is a completely new concept.

I agree with Jenny. BREAK UP LAUSD. They are too big, full of mismanagement and they have way to much political power. They are an out of control monster that use the children as political pawns. Why should I have to pay for private school and lausd? I will NOT be sending my children to the lausd. I will send them to private school and if I can not afford that, I will close my business that has been in my family since the 1920's and move to another state. I will not sacrifice my baby's childhood and future, no exceptions!

If we are going to use the test scores to measure a teacher's worth then we should be compensated if the test scores increase. As a teacher, we know that will never happen. If you work in corporate America your ability to perform equates to making more money. If we are held "accountable" then pay for for our hard work as you are willing to punish us for low scores. Also, parents are a key factor please hold parents accountable for not sending their students to school, letting them talk back, etc. Students who are acting out, not coming to school etc. let us also post those parents names so they , too, will be held accountable. As Ms. Clinton said so deftly, "It takes a village. " Teachers are not alone in the pursuit of higher knowledge it starts at home. Let me use an idiom that we all understand "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Why is it that all the politicians, including the president, send their children to private schools. If you believe in public education support it fully, which means your children should be enrolled in our public schools. Then I would be more willing to heed your advice as you, too, would be on the inside. Right now you are on the outside looking in and that doesn't help you to understand the situation.

The California State Test is discriminatory in its nature. It is a Norm-Referenced test that is based on a school's population being less than 10% English Language Learners. Any inner city school is already at a disadvantage. In addition, the formula used to calculate scores is a secret and the state cedes all this authority to the testing company. How can 59/62 on the Math Section = 480 points out of 600 possible? Well, don't ask the Testing Company to explain, it's a secret and they couldn't explain the results to the parent: an educator with a Masters in Math Education. They don't tell you that if too many test takers get an answer correct, that item is thrown out and they have a weighted system for points. But 3/60 problems = 20/100% ? There are no open answer items, it is ALL mutiple choice. Norm - Referenced is another name for Institutionalized Classism (yes poor whites fare badly too). The test must preserve the Bell Shaped Curved or it is considered invalid. Therefore 50% of all test takers will be below the 50th percentile, regardless of the actual test results. The test should be Criterion Referenced- fitting a certain criteria based on grade level standards. So many correct means so many points- open ended questions can be worth more points. 95% correct on a test shouldn't equal a B-. These are the pillars on which all this LA Times analysis is based on? Dig deeper LA Times. Why do you accept the data at face value? Please, by all means- Your next investigation should be on why the Testing System provides an inadequate measure and follow the money to see who benefits: publishers of tests and texts, politicians, and Education bureaucrats who use the cloak of Standardized Discriminatory Testing to keep the money flowing, all the while pointing the finger at teachers and their students who are banished to the left side of the Bell Shape Curve.

Thank you, LA Times. As a parent of young children, I would like to thank you for the public service you have provided by making available to parents information to which we are entitled when making decisions about the well-being of our children. The simple fact is that the teachers' unions have totally lost sight of the societal purpose behind and mission of public education. The one and only priority is the well-being and better of children. This is not a money making enterprise and it's not about protecting jobs. As a liberal Democrat, I have finally come to appreciate that the unions are truly the force responsible for blocking the steps necessary to bring our public schools up to an acceptable level, and the delay they are causing is totally immoral. Each year wasted because of this union stonewalling (for example, cutting jobs of the young, energic and creative teachers in favor of lazy and apathetic ones with seniority) is another grade level of children flushed down the drain by the arrogance and selfishness of the unions.

I think that if the teachers evaluations are publicly posted, so should all managers, including Principal's evaluations, up to and including the Superintendent, be posted publicly. The teachers are only able to do what the managers of the school system, and the amount funded, allow them to do. When so many of them use their own private funds to buy supplies for their rooms, their dedication is not suspect, but the management is.

P.s. If any readers have ideas on how to get the break up of LAUSD started, please post. Let's get a grass roots effort going, our children are too important. If I need to go door to door, I will get the signatures needed and I'll bet there are a million+ other parents that will help. LET'S GET THIS MOVEMENT STARTED, THEY WORK FOR US!

Thank you LA times.
Obviously, those who suck will hate it.
Those who are great will be hero's to the Public.

Ignore the NOISE of those aren't great. Those who are great always want the facts.

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