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L.A. teachers union drops legal challenge to evaluation system

December 2, 2011 |  4:18 pm

Photo: Young Oak teacher Amber Green shows a group of sixth- and seventh-graders how to graph drawings of themselves using a photo booth program. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles TimesThe union for Los Angeles teachers has suspended its legal challenge to a pilot evaluation program that includes using standardized test scores as part of a teacher’s performance review. The union also reserved the right to reactivate the case should talks with the district sour.

A joint statement released by L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy and United Teachers Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher said 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,” according to the statement.

The sticking point has been linking student standardized test scores to the evaluation. Union officials accept these results for the purpose of informing instruction, but not for rating teacher quality. Deasy wants scores to help measure a teacher’s effectiveness.

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

Deasy contends that he doesn’t have to negotiate what an evaluation would consist of. The union strongly disagrees. But the truce allows both sides to put more focus on mutual interests, including pursuing new revenue, opposing state budget cuts and saving teaching jobs. Of course, it also allows Deasy to continue testing out a new evaluation system with volunteers. During this trial period, the results will have no consequences on a teacher’s job security.

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.

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-- Howard Blume

Photo: Amber Green, a teacher at Young Oak Kim Academy in Koreatown, shows a group of sixth- and seventh-graders how to graph drawings of themselves using a photo booth program. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

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