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How good is your child's teacher? The Times crunches the numbers

August 14, 2010 |  5:49 pm

The Times obtained seven years of math and English test scores from the Los Angeles Unified School District and used the information to estimate the effectiveness of L.A. teachers — something the district could do but has not.

The Times used a statistical approach known as value-added analysis, which rates teachers based on their students' progress on standardized tests from year to year. Each student's performance is compared with his or her own in past years, which largely controls for outside influences often blamed for academic failure: poverty, prior learning and other factors.

Though controversial among teachers and others, the method has been increasingly embraced by education leaders and policymakers across the country, including the Obama administration.

In coming months, The Times will publish a series of articles and a database analyzing individual teachers' effectiveness in the nation's second-largest school district — the first time, experts say, such information has been made public anywhere in the country.

The series examines the performance of more than 6,000 third- through fifth-grade teachers for whom reliable data were available.

Read Jason Felch and Jason Song's full investigation here. In the video above, Felch discusses the series.

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