LA study: New teachers get worst students

In Los Angeles Unified, new teachers get the weakest students, reports a six-year study by the Strategic Data Project.

The study also found “significant disparities in effectiveness among the district’s elementary and middle school teachers, as measured by students’ standardized test scores,” notes EdSource Today.

Researchers found that the difference between a math teacher in the 75th percentile – those whose students performed better than three quarters of other students – and a teacher in the 25th percentile was the roughly equivalent benefit to a student of having eight additional months of instruction in a calendar year (technically one quarter of a standard deviation).

New teachers hired through Teach for America and the district’s Career Ladder program that helps aides become teachers were more effective in math than other novice teachers by two months for TFA and one month for former aides. However, most TFA teachers leave after two years, while Career Ladder teachers usually stay for the long haul.

Forty-five percent of laid-off teachers ranked in the top two quartiles in effectiveness, the study found. All layoffs are based on seniority.

Of the teachers who were laid off, 45 percent were in the top two quartiles of effective teachers in Los Angeles Unified. Source: SDP Human Capital Diagnostic in the Los Angeles Unified. (Click to enlarge.)
Los Angeles teachers with advanced academic degrees earn more, but are no more effective, the study found. However, “teachers with a National Board Certification outperform other teachers, by roughly two months of additional math instruction and one month of additional ELA instruction over a year.”  Most board-certified teachers in Los Angeles work in high-performing schools.

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  1. Obi-Wandreas says:

    In my first year of teaching, I was assinged a 9th grade class in addition to my 8th grade classes. I was slightly confused that their curriculum was not the standard 9th grade curriculum, and that there was a teacher’s aide standing in the back of the class (silently, doing nothing). It was not until later that I found out that I was actually teaching a class of special ed students.

    Although it would require renegotiating union contracts, a district with any brains would offer extra compensation for experienced teachers willing to teach in high-need schools. This, combined with: 1) an alternative system large enough to allow most schools to not have to tolerate habitual discipline problems, and 2) honest reporting of students’ academic progress, would make a world of difference.

    • I think you ought to consider other possible reasons besides stupidity for why your district, and lots and lots of other districts, don’t come to the same conclusions as you and implement the idea.

  2. I KNEW I should have done the doctorate – only a chucklehead WOULDN’T have known this – it requires a short visit to city schools to ascertain this information.

    The noob always gets the “veteran” students – those who did not get the credit the previous year. That group includes:
    – the chemically altered – no way to know whether they COULD have passed, if not indulging their chosen pharms in school
    – the legally-entangled – these may have originated in the school in a previous year, or just may have come to that school after their legal troubles. Often wear ankle bracelets, have gang affiliations, and may be under court order to attend school regularly. Some will succeed, if only because the alternative is jail. REALLY fun to have in class if that subject wasn’t taught in juvie – like science, which isn’t on the menu. Teach has to work long hours to catch him up to speed.
    – the fecund – either currently pregnant or formerly pregnant. SOMETIMES gets the reality of her situation, and buckles down to work, often making up prodigious amounts of content. Often hampered by bureaucracies that fail to deliver home instruction for months at a time, causing student to fail due to lack of attendance (NOT an uncommon situation).
    – the over-age. No prior grade-level work. Sometimes, a chronic truant. Other times, just passed along till high school, where his/her illiteracy and innumeracy makes further progress impossible. Is seldom offered actual reading/math classes on his/her level; usually put in an over-crowded class that tries to teach how to get by without actually reading, writing, or doing simple math – I’m talking anything beyond addition and subtraction.
    – one of MY favs – the kid who REALLY needs special ed, but whose parents failed to show up for IEP meetings/submit paperwork that placed the kid in special ed. Often caused by paperwork mistakes associated with a move to a different district. Sits there, confused, and hopes to pass. Often quite cooperative, becoming an eager assistant. Is heartbroken when their great attitude and helpfulness doesn’t result in a passing grade.
    – involuntary, and MUCH disliked, wrongful assignment. Often caused by districts that refuse to forward information about credits earned unless the parent forks up fees/tuition owed. This is QUITE common, and districts always seem to get away with it. The kid has done this work, but, without the paperwork, can’t persuade the counselors to place them more appropriately.