Parents have a right to know how their children’s teachers are rated on employee evaulations, Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, told the Los Angeles Times. However, she asked the Los Angeles Times not to go forward with plans to publish the names of more than 6,000 elementary school teachers ranked by their record of improving students’ reading and math scores over a seven-year period.
Teachers “look at this as a hammer, a sledgehammer, and they’re scared about it,” she said. “They’re schoolteachers; they’re private individuals…. They’re not public figures.”
More than 1,100 teachers have requested and received copies of their value-added rankings, the Times reports. “More than 100 have submitted comments on their rankings that will be published as part of the database.”
When done properly, value-added analysis could be a valuable part of assessing teacher performance, Weingarten said.
“There’s a right way to do evaluation, and we have to keep everybody’s feet to the fire,” she said.
She added that the system of teacher evaluations had been “broken for years,” and needed drastic reform. She said a good system of teacher evaluations would ensure that struggling teachers receive the help they need to improve, but would also make it easier to fire teachers who were unable to change.
Third Street Elementary teacher Karen Caruso, who was named in the Times’ story as ranking among the bottom 10% of elementary teachers in the value-added analysis, is “the most beloved teacher in the school,” Weingarten said.
(Caruso) is known for helping her students become more critical thinkers and better problem solvers — skills, she implied, that wouldn’t necessarily be reflected in standardized test scores.
United Teachers of Los Angeles strongly opposes efforts to consider student test scores in teacher evaluations. The union has called on teachers to boycott the Times.
On California Watch, Louis Freedberg looks at the ethics of “outing teachers” and questions the validity of value-added analysis; a Times reporter responds.