Tuesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by families seeking education reform.
Tuesday afternoon Chalfant issued a tentative ruling saying the L.A. Unified School District is violating state law by not using student test scores in teacher evaluations.
The ruling concludes with Chalfant stating that he will issue an order compelling the district to comply with a 1999 law called the Stull Act, which mandates school districts use some measure of pupil progress in teacher and administrator evaluations and use standardized test scores to measure their progress in complying with state academic standards.
"UTLA would never agree to any sort of evaluation system, whether or not it has data, if that evaluation system would have the effect of either narrowing the curriculum or creating situations where teachers would be competing against each other, because that's not what makes a good school," said Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles.
The judge has ordered all sides to appear before him in July to determine how the evaluations will be performed.
The 25-page opinion by Judge James Chalfant is a tentative decision in a lawsuit filed last year by an anonymous group of LAUSD families sponsored by EdVoice, a Sacramento-based education reform group, against the district.
The decision gives the nation's second largest school district new ammunition in its long-running battle with teachers and administrators' unions over use of test scores in performance evaluations.
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said through a spokesman that he agrees with the judge's tentative ruling, adding that the district has waited far too long to comply with the law.
"The system itself that we currently use is absent the kind of fundamental goal of the whole process of an education, and that is how do students do," Deasy said in a deposition, as cited in the ruling.
The district is testing the use of a new appraisal system, which includes test scores, in a number of schools with the aim of issuing more meaningful feedback to teachers.
Teachers union United Teachers Los Angeles maintains that any change in evaluation procedures should be negotiated in collective bargaining.
UTLA officials had not fully reviewed Chalfant's opinion, but President Fletcher said that the union will obey the law and will devise an evaluation system with the district that supports instruction, not limiting to it to test-teaching.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.