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Controversy surrounds LAUSD teacher rankings

September 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new controversy erupts in the nation's second largest school district: The Los Angeles School Board has endorsed a student-scoring system as a way of measuring teacher performance. The teachers union isn't happy about it.The question is, How do you measure a teacher's performance, and should their jobs depend on it?

"Because ratings based on a single measure cannot determine the effectiveness of a teacher, LAUSD is endeavoring to use several different methodologies to more effectively evaluate our teachers," said L.A. School Board member Yolie Flores.

The Los Angeles Unified School District Board Thursday endorsed using what is known as "Value Added Measure." It rates student test scores and calculates how much the teacher contributed to any changes. It ranks teachers from best to worst.

This comes at a time when the high-school dropout rate is close to 50 percent.

"We should be more than, 'You're a good teacher," said LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines. "What is the evidence that you're a good teacher? What is the attendance in your class? What is the discipline in your class? What kind of creative activities do we have? And also: How are your children doing?"

"We believe that the evaluation system is broken," said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA).

Duffy opposes using this value-added plan. The union feels it is too unreliable. It wants to look at every option.

"We want to sit down with the district and the administrators association with a blank slate," said Duffy. "We're not coming with any ideas other than to create a positive evaluation system."

The school districts says it's now putting together a plan and should notify the teachers union in about a week that it wants to begin negotiations.


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