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LA Times Released Data on Teacher Performance Under New Value-Added System

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How would you feel if your performance evaluation was posted in a national newspaper for all to see? Third through fifth grade public school teachers in L.A. found out at the end of August when the Los Angeles Times published their effectiveness ratings, based on the performance of their students.

The figures were generated based on a new teacher evaluation system that many states are embracing, called the value-added system. Basically, it measures the value a teacher adds to a student’s progress by comparing the student’s performance from the previous year to the current one.

The Times published scores for about 6,000 teachers, and you can search their database by teacher name or school.

The Times reported that education experts at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. recommended the use of the value-added system as part of teacher evaluation because it “can help support stronger inferences about the influences of teachers.”

President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten reportedly asked the Times not to publish the scores, and said the paper used the scores “in isolation.”

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan applauded the publishing of the scores on a recent appearance (with Weingarten) on This Week, where he said that in a plagued school district like L.A.’s, "it shouldn't take a newspaper to give [teachers] that data."

It seems generally agreed upon that the value-added system should contribute to a teacher’s evaluation from now on, which, to me, makes sense: a teacher’s job is to teach students, and I think parents have a right to know how well teachers perform (although it’s right to be noted that this should only be taken as part of an evaluation). It must be harsh to have your personal scores published in a national newspaper, but with the state of our public schools, maybe a collective prod will nudge us all in the right direction.

Readers, moms, educators: what do you think about the value-added system? Should the Times have published the data?

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