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In Los Angeles, the best teachers often go unrecognized and unrewarded, according to an article entitled “No gold stars for successful L.A. teachers” in the Los Angeles Times.
Most are scattered across the city and work in obscurity, writes Jason Felch, the article’s author.
“No one asks them their secrets. Most of the time, no one even says, ‘Good job,’ ” according to the story. “Frequently, even their own colleagues and principals don’t know who they are.”
The story is part of an ongoing series that uses “value-added analysis” to measure the effectiveness of more than 6,000 teachers in L.A. Unified. The analysis, which makes use of seven years of individual student-performance data, was supported in part by a grant from The Hechinger Report. The Times has also made teacher-ratings based on student results on the California Standards Tests for English and math available on the paper’s website. The series has noted that which teacher a child gets matters much more to that child’s performance on standardized tests than the school he or she attends.
Leaders from both national and local teachers’ unions criticized the Times for making the database public, which comes as L.A. Unified and the teachers’ union have agreed to begin negotiations on a new evaluation system, according to the paper. Experts writing for the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank based in Washington, D.C., released a brief on August 29th that cautioned leaders against placing undue weight on standardized test scores in evaluations of teacher effectiveness.
Reporters who visited the classrooms of teachers the Times identified as high-performing found a range of teaching styles and personalities. “They were quiet and animated, smiling and stern. Some stuck to the basics, while others veered far from the district’s often-rigid curriculum. Those interviewed said repeatedly that being effective at raising students’ performance does not mean simply ‘teaching to the test,’ as critics of value-added analysis say they fear,” Felch writes.