NCTQ: LA schools waste money

Los Angeles public schools waste $500 million a year to pay teachers for completing graduate courses that don’t improve teaching, concludes a report by the National Council on Teacher Quality. The money would be better spent paying more to teachers who deliver results, such as higher test scores, or to attract proven talent to the system, NCTQ’s Kate Walsh told the Board of Education at last week’s meeting, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Nearly all school districts use a pay scale that rewards teachers for years of experience and for additional graduate credits earned. Experience makes a difference in the first years of teaching; researchers have found no link between graduate courses or master’s degrees and teaching effectiveness.

Other findings included:

• Only a third of Los Angeles teachers graduated from a school ranked as either “most” or “more” selective.

• Principals don’t take advantage of flexibility and authority they already have in hiring and evaluating teachers.

Teachers are observed by only their principal and only once every other year. That’s not enough, the “road map” concluded.

In addition, the online teacher evaluation system requires principals to provide documentation if they check “needs improvement” for three or more of 27 indicators. There’s no need to document a satisfactory rating. Administrators may decide a negative rating ” is not worth the effort,” concluded the report, which called for “a high burden of evidence and feedback for every rating — both negative and affirmative.”

The report also criticized teacher assignment policies, saying principals are forced to hire teachers who may not be a good fit and lay off teachers based on seniority rather than performance.

In addition, teachers aren’t required to be on campus for the eight-hour work day, making it hard to schedule collaboration and joint planning.

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