Edvoice - Issues

Sorry, teachers, test scores should count

August 16 | The Los Angeles Times

They should never become a dominant factor in evaluating teachers, but improving scores is one part of a teacher's job and thus has a place in the review.

In many ways, the recently resurrected Assembly Bill 5 would bring needed clarity and rigor to the performance evaluations of California's public school teachers. It nicely balances minimum requirements for all teachers and considerable control by local school districts. What a shame, then, that it also would weaken a key aspect of existing law, making the new bill unworthy of support when it comes before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

Teachers unions hate the idea of including student progress on the state standards tests in performance evaluations, but as one court recently ruled, that is state law. And it's a law that should stand.

LAUSD faces Dec. 4 deadline for launching new teacher evaluation system

July 25 | LA Daily News

By Barbara Jones

Los Angeles Unified has until Dec. 4 to implement a system for including student test scores in teacher evaluations, under an agreement negotiated Tuesday by attorneys for the district, its unions and a parent advocacy group.

The deadline was set as Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant pushed the district to obey his order to comply with the Stull Act, the 41-year-old law which mandates that student performance be used to help gauge teacher success. After a legal squabble in the courtroom, Chalfant sent attorneys into the hallway to hammer out a timeline for complying with a ruling he issued last month.

There will be a "gut-check" on Sept. 4, to make sure the district is on track toward a final Dec. 4 deadline, said Bill Lucia, executive director of EdVoice, the advocacy group that filed suit challenging the district's teacher evaluations. Lucia called the timeline realistic, and said it ensures that a system will be in place next spring for ensuring that students are in a classroom with an effective teacher.


Teachers' attorney says evals can include test scores this year

July 25 | Los Angeles Times

LAUSD and its teachers union agree on a timeline to start factoring student achievement into employee evaluations — if they can agree on how to do it.

By Teresa Watanabe

In a potentially groundbreaking decision, Los Angeles teachers and administrators agreed with the school district for the first time to use student test scores as part of performance reviews beginning this school year.

But an attorney for United Teachers Los Angeles later said the commitment he made during a court hearing Tuesday was contingent on whether the union and L.A. Unified School District could successfully negotiate an agreement on exactly how such scores would be used in the teacher evaluations.

That drew criticism from an attorney who sought the pledge in a case he brought on behalf of Los Angeles parents, who successfully sued the district for violating a 41-year-old state law that requires evaluations to include measures of student achievement, such as test scores.


Common-sense rules on teacher evals

June 25 | San Gabriel Valley Tribune

The forces aligned against school reform suffered a loss this month when a judge ruled that of course student test scores must be a factor in evaluating the performance of public school teachers.

OK, perhaps the "of course" is inferred. But one can imagine Superior Court Judge James Chalfant rolling his eyes at the absurdity of having to rule on what is essentially common sense. That is the crazy place that public education has reached in the 21st century - a world in which teachers are protected to the detriment of students, in which districts are unable to judge teachers on whether they are actually getting results.

Pointed reminder on teacher evaluations

June 18 | San Diego Union-Tribune

A plainly written 1971 state law called the Stull Act was passed to “establish a uniform system of evaluation and assessment of the performance of certificated personnel within each school district of the state.” The law specifically said that student performance must be included as part of teacher and administrator evaluations.

But a not-so-funny thing happened to the Stull Act over the years. As teacher unions’ power grew, not just pay and benefits but school policies began to be included in collective bargaining agreements for new contracts. Among such policies: how teachers are evaluated. In the biggest California district, Los Angeles Unified, the contract flatly bans evaluating teachers and administrators based on student performance.

This is bonkers, and last week Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ruled that it is also a clear violation of the Stull Act. Chalfant was acting in a lawsuit filed by the EdVoice reform group on behalf of a handful of unnamed students and parents.

L.A. Teachers Face New Evaluations

June 14 | Wall Street Journal


Los Angeles teacher April Bain says she backs using tests to evaluate teachers, something her union opposes.

In the past three years, at least 30 states have begun to use student achievement to evaluate teachers, spurred in part by President Barack Obama's Race to the Top education initiative as well as by some Republican governors. California isn't one of them.

That could change after a ruling by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge. At a hearing Tuesday, Judge James Chalfant said the Los Angeles Unified School District, one of the nation's largest, violated California's Stull Act, a 41-year-old law that requires teacher evaluations to take into consideration the performance of students.

LAUSD's big test

June 14 | Los Angeles Times

A judge says the district and union must find a way to use student progress in teachers' evaluations.

Now that a judge has ruled that teachers' performance evaluations in the Los Angeles Unified School District are inadequate and violate state law, the teachers union will finally have to work with district leaders on devising a reasonable method for using student achievement to measure teachers' work. It would be a mistake for United Teachers Los Angeles to drag its heels on this; Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant made it clear that he wants the two sides to make at least some progress by midsummer.

Chalfant wisely refrained from being prescriptive about how the schools go about this new era of measurement. There's room for the district and the teachers union to fashion a thoughtful compromise that recognizes the utility of data but does not overly rely on it.

Teachers group unveils its proposal for new evaluations

June 13 | Los Angeles Times

By Teresa Watanabe

A group of Los Angeles teachers Wednesday unveiled their own proposal for a new performance review system that would use both state standardized test scores and assessments chosen by individual schools to measure how well instructors help their students learn.

The proposal by Educators 4 Excellence, whose L.A. chapter of 900 teachers was launched last November, came one day after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge found that the Los Angeles Unified School District had violated a state law requiring the use of such student achievement measures in its instructor evaluations. It is the latest in a flurry of recent proposals by L.A. teacher and community groups to endorse the use of student test scores in job-performance reviews.

LAUSD ordered to use student achievement in judging teachers

June 13 | Los Angeles Times

A court finds that L.A. Unified violated state law requiring measurements of pupils' progress be used to evaluate instructors. But he gives the district wide latitude on how to measure learning.

By Teresa Watanabe

Over the objections of teachers and administrators groups, the Los Angeles Unified School District was ordered Tuesday to use students' academic achievement in their teachers' evaluations.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant affirmed his preliminary ruling this week, finding that the district has violated a 40-year-old state law, known as the Stull Act, requiring that evaluations of teachers and principals include measures of how much students learn what the state and district expects them to know.

Judge: LA Unified must include student performance data in teacher evaluations

June 13 | KPCC - Southern California Public Radio

By Tami Abdollah

L.A. Unified must include student progress as a measure in teacher evaluations in order to abide by state law, a judge ruled at a hearing Tuesday.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant affirmed his 25-page tentative ruling (with minor modifications) that was issued Monday in a more than hour-long court hearing today after a bevy of attorneys representing the district, United Teachers Los Angeles, Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, and others, made their final arguments in Doe vs. Deasy.