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Meet L.A.'s most effective teachers -- and find out how your child's teacher performs

August 29, 2010 |  8:54 am


The Los Angeles Unified School District has hundreds of Jaime Escalantes -- teachers who preside over remarkable successes, year after year, often against incredible odds, according to a Times analysis. But nobody is making a film about them.

Most are like Zenaida Tan, working in obscurity. No one asks them their secrets. Most of the time, no one even says, "Good job."

Frequently, even their own colleagues and principals don't know who they are.

As part of an effort to shed light on the work of Los Angeles teachers, The Times on Sunday is releasing a database of roughly 6,000 third- through fifth-grade teachers, ranked by their effectiveness in raising students' scores on standardized tests of math and English over a seven-year period.

The findings are based on an approach called value-added analysis, which is designed to allow fair comparisons of teachers whose students have widely varying backgrounds. Although controversial, the method increasingly has been adopted across the nation to measure the progress students make under different instructors.

L.A. Unified has had the underlying data for years but has chosen not to analyze it in this way, partly in anticipation of union opposition. After The Times' initial report this month showed wide disparities among elementary school teachers, even in the same schools, the district moved to use value-added analysis to guide teacher training and began discussions with the teachers union about incorporating data on student progress into teacher evaluations.

Read more here.

-- Jason Felch

Photo: Zenaida Tan brims with innovative ways to reach limited-English students, handle discipline problems and keep the kids engaged. “I do a lot of singing, games,” says the teacher, seen in May at a San Fernando school. Many of her students are immigrants like her. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times