New proposal to evaluate teachers includes student test scores
This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.
A coalition of Los Angeles teachers, parents and community members Thursday unveiled a proposal to use student test scores as one measure to evaluate teachers -- a controversial element that many teacher unions have fought.
The proposal was aimed at breaking what coalition members called a troubling stalemate over a new teacher evaluation system between the Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles. Efforts to improve ways to assess teachers have been stalled in part over disagreement on using data that measure the growth in student academic performance, as measured by standardized test scores.
But teachers, who made up a third of the 15 "Our Schools, Our Voice" coalition members, said they took great care to ensure that all evaluation measures were reliable and fair.
[For the record, 12:34 p.m., May 31: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the coalition's name was "Our Schools, One Voice."]
Test score data, for instance, would be phased in and count for a maximum of 25% of the evaluation after two years. But the evaluation would take into account a student's English language ability and only count if the curriculum matched the tested material, if the student sample was statistically significant and if students attended the teacher's class at least 85% of the time. In addition, the school's overall growth in student performance could be used instead of the teacher's individual score if it were higher during the first two years.
Observations, which would count for 60% of the evaluation, would be conducted by an administrator and a teacher who are trained and certified as competent to perform them.
And teachers who help reduce the achievement gap between African American and Latino students and their white peers would receive a 10% bonus.
Earlier this year, UTLA released its own evaluation proposal that does not include student test data as part of the teacher's overall score. Instead, the union proposed that teachers write a self-analysis that could include student data but that the analysis would not count in the overall score.
Sujata Bhatt, a fifth-grade teacher at Grand View Elementary School in Los Angeles who helped craft the coalition's proposal, said she had no problem with using student data.
"We have to step up to the plate and make things work or it's going to keep disintegrating," Bhatt said. "I'd rather be part of the group defining what the variables are rather than say no, no, no."
School districts around the country are revamping the way teachers are evaluated, with many using students test scores as one measure of effectiveness. The Obama administration has pushed districts -- and states -- to adopt these kinds of reviews.
Photo: Maria Palomares participates in a November 2011 rally in front of the LAUSD offices to call on the district and teachers to agree on a contract and to reform policy to improve education and ensure that teachers are fairly evaluated. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times