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L.A. Unified administrators confident about new evaluation system

Los Angeles Unified administrators are optimistic they can reach agreement with district officials over a new performance review system in compliance with court-ordered deadlines, according to legal papers filed Wednesday.

The progress report was required under a court order by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant, who ruled in June that state law requires evaluations of teachers and principals to include evidence of student academic growth, as measured by standardized test scores and other indicators.

A group of unidentified Los Angeles parents had sued the district, saying the failure to include such student data resulted in a weak evaluation system that deprived children of effective teachers.

L.A. Unified launched a voluntary evaluation program last year that includes student test scores at about 100 schools involving more than 700 teachers and principals. But Chalfant directed the district to show by Dec. 4 that it had fully complied with the order, which applies districtwide.

In its legal filing, the district said it had conducted nine negotiating sessions with the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles and 11 with United Teachers Los Angeles this summer over the evaluation system. Judith Perez, president of the administrators’ union, said progress had been made but that details of the negotiations were confidential.

Among the administrators' concerns, she said, was the additional hours needed to conduct evaluations under the new system by principals who are already “overworked and overwhelmed” amid steep budget cutbacks.

United Teachers Los Angeles opposes the new evaluation system, particularly the use of test scores, which the union regards as too unreliable for personnel decisions. The union also argues that all aspects of performance review systems must be negotiated.

In the court filing, the district reasserted its belief that it had the right to set the evaluation criteria without bargaining. The union had no comment on the filing, a spokeswoman said.

Bill Lucia of EdVoice, the Sacramento-based educational group that brought the lawsuit, called the reported progress with administrators encouraging. “Hopefully, an agreement with AALA will set the tone for good-faith efforts and agreement with UTLA and ultimately a real success for the kids,” he said.

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--Teresa Watanabe

 
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