Teaching Profession

Teachers Protest L.A. Times' Value-Added Series

By Bryan Toporek — September 20, 2010 2 min read
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The writers of the L.A. Times found themselves in a strange journalistic setting last week: reporting on a protest outside of their own building.

Hundreds of educators of the Los Angeles Unified School District took to the streets to protest the controversial value-added series the Times began publishing back in August. The series attempted to use statistics to analyze the performance of thousands of elementary school teachers.

“Teachers are more than a test score,” said United Teachers Los Angeles President A.J. Duffy, according to the Times.

The Times reports: “Tuesday’s protest was organized by United Teachers Los Angeles. In recent days, Duffy has left recorded [phone] messages at teachers’ homes, urging them to attend the rally to protest the articles that he described as an attack on teachers and their profession. Duffy has also called for a boycott of the newspaper.”

A number of teachers quoted in the Times’ article felt that the newspaper’s value-added series was unfair in their portrayal of teachers.

“I feel, in a way, betrayed,” said Lee Bartoletti of Ivanhoe Elementary School in Silver Lake, to the Times. “The Times has reneged on its mission of telling the truth.”

Update: (Nora Fleming)

In the wake of the heavily debated and divisive Los Angeles Times’ series, “Grading the Teachers: Who’s Teaching L.A.'s Kids,” which publicized the school evaluations of 6,000 LAUSD teachers as a means of gauging teacher impact on student performance, University of California, Berkeley, is hosting a forum titled, “Grading the Teachers: Measures, Media and Policies.”

Participating panelists include experts in the fields of education and journalism (including Teacher’s own blogger Anthony Cody) who will speak to whether the performance analysis used by the L.A. Times to evaluate teachers is an effective means of assessment, particularly in determining overall impacts to student achievement.

The forum hosts add, “While President Obama’s administration has made a priority of compensating teachers, at least in part, for their performance, a big part of the controversy is the evaluation method that the L.A. Times used in its analysis and whether the paper did enough to make the readers aware of the limitations of the ‘value-added’ approach it employed.”

Held on Sept. 27, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (PST) the forum will be streamed live as well as archived on the website a few days following the event. If you’re in the area, “Grading the Teachers” will be held in Banatao Auditorium, 310 Sutardja Dai Hall on campus.

Background on the panelists and info on the current debate is available.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.