This past Sunday, the Los Angeles Times released a major update to its elementary school teacher value-added ratings, much to the chagrin of many teachers, administrators, and civic leaders in the community. The teachers’ ratings are determined by their students’ progress on the California Standards Tests for English and math. This is the second time that the Times has caused a stir related to teacher ratings. Last August, the newspaper released teacher performance data for about half the number of teachers that were released on Sunday.
When the Times invited teachers to view their scores before publication, only a few commented on their ratings, having been advised by the United Teachers Los Angeles union not to do so. According to the Times, however, some of the feedback received from teachers was negative. “Once again you have violated the right to privacy of thousands of teachers,” wrote one teacher.
Before publication, John Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, along with several civic leaders, wrote a letter to the Times asking the newspaper to reconsider publishing the ratings. One of the concerns Deasy raised was the potential confusion that educators and parents might encounter once the district confidentially released their own set of teacher ratings at the end of the school year. Civic leaders also wrote that “individual teacher evaluations should be conducted privately for the purpose of helping teachers improve.”
Times Editor Russ Stanton stood behind the reliability of the ratings. Though the ratings changed very little since the last time this data was released, this round took into account additional variables such as a student’s socioeconomic background and the composition of a teacher’s class. Stanton also said that the newspaper is performing a service to the people of Los Angeles by publishing this information.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.