Pass / Fail

So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Scholar critical of value added method speaking to LA teachers

State education officials are worried about the hundreds of photos of standardized tests – sometimes with answers – that have begun to appear on social networking sites. A talk on whether to factor student test scores into teachers’ performance evaluations is taking place on Monday afternoon.
State education officials are worried about the hundreds of photos of standardized tests – sometimes with answers – that have begun to appear on social networking sites. A talk on whether to factor student test scores into teachers’ performance evaluations is taking place on Monday afternoon. timlewisnm/Flickr Creative Commons

L.A. Unified’s teachers union is sponsoring a talk Monday evening about one of public education’s most hotly debated issues: whether to factor student test scores into teachers’ performance evaluations.

Stanford University professor Linda Darling Hammond says her talk will focus on the student performance measure commonly known as Value Added Modeling.

The federal government has encouraged states to use those methods as part of the teacher evaluation process but researchers have found a lot of problems with this methodology. 

She says the complicated method generates wild variations in results and relies too much on standardized tests that don’t favor black and Latino working-class students. She says there are other ways to determine how well a teacher reaches his or her students. 

"Like essays that are scored at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year," she suggests. "And math tests in the fall and in the spring. The worst possible measure is the state test score."

A showdown over the value-added method may be on the horizon in LAUSD. Administrators want to use it in a new teachers’ evaluation they’re negotiating with United Teachers Los Angeles. Union leaders say they’re dead set against the ratings.

L.A. Unified teacher Alex Caputo Pearl helped organize Monday's talk. He says teachers like Darling Hammond provide a critical perspective on Value Added Modeling — in part because she studies how factors in black and Latino students’ lives affect their schoolwork.

That, he says, is a big deal in a mostly urban district like L.A. Unified.

Linda Darling Hammond’s talk takes place this Monday at 5:30 p.m. in Koreatown's Robert F. Kennedy School complex.

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