Principals approve new evaluations but object to workload
School officials on Tuesday formally approved a one-year agreement for evaluating principals in the Los Angeles Unified School District, but the head of the administrators union also asserted that principals will be overburdened by a new teacher-evaluation system.
The new evaluation system for principals, which will incorporate student-achievement data, was ratified by the Board of Education after previous approval by the administrators union.
“We appreciate the collaboration with the district’s bargaining team during negotiations,” said Judith Perez, president of Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, which represents principals and others. “We agree that improvement is critical—and proper use of data will help us move forward in that direction.”
Perez was emphatic, however, that something has to give on teacher evaluations.
“Our administrators are overwhelmed by the workload mandated by district leadership,” Perez said, adding that 100 elementary schools have an office staffed only by a principal, an administrative assistant and a half-time clerk.
The district expects principals to ultimately conduct two observation cycles per teacher every year, Perez said, and each observation can occupy 12 work hours or more, a problem exacerbated by the required computer program.
The most recent edition of the administrators’ newsletter is replete with views of unhappy principals. And last week, about 100 members of that union, at their regular meeting, voted unanimously to call for relief. Their resolution called for a suspension of the teacher-evaluation system as well as for suspending a “performance meter” used to measure school progress and a separate system for tracking disclipline “pending the addition of minimally adequate resources to schools.”
In an interview, Perez said about 30 of 112 principals dropped out of the teacher-evaluation program last year, when it was voluntary.
L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy acknowledged the process could be painstaking but said it provided the sort of feedback that helped teachers improve and provided a fair evaluation.
“We are in a pilot to understand how we can make it more manageable,” Deasy said. He added that it doesn’t make sense to go back “to paper and pencil.”
Separately, the teachers union has pursued a legal challenge to the voluntary teachers evaluation system.
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-- Howard Blume
Photo: L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy at a Los Angeles School Board meeting in Feb. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times