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

LAUSD, teachers' union reach 'historic' agreement on evaluations (PDF)

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Andres Aguila/KPCC

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa talks to the media about the decision in the case of Doe vs. Deasy on June 12, 2012. L.A. Unified and its teachers' union announced a "historic" tentative agreement to include student test scores as a measure in teacher evaluations.

Just days before a court-ordered deadline, L.A. Unified and its teachers' union announced a "historic" tentative agreement allowing administrators to use student test scores in teacher evaluations.

Under the agreement, teachers' final evaluation will include student results on the California Standards Test from the previous year or years, in addition to the schoolwide Academic Growth over Time measure. They will also be judged on students' California High School Exit Exam scores, API scores, graduation and dropout rates as well as classroom observation.

Individual teacher AGT scores will not be part of final evaluations or be used to come up with specific performance goals.

Superintendent John Deasy said teachers will be held accountable for improvement by both individual students and their school. "So there's collective and individual [measure], which is a good balance in my opinion of both how the whole school's doing and how my classroom is doing."

Read More...

API scores: An educational horse race that will soon change

L.A. County Fair

The California Department of Education will release the Academic Performance Index numbers Thursday in an annual tradition that is perhaps the closest equivalent to educational horse racing — parents and schools obsess over the scores and districts work to make them higher.

The California Department of Education will release the Academic Performance Index numbers Thursday in an annual tradition that's the educational equivalent to horse racing — like oddsmakers poring over a racing form, parents and schools obsess over the meaning of scores; like trainers in search of a winning strategy, school districts sweat to push the scores higher.

But this state measure, as it currently exists, will soon be obsolete.

The API gives schools a score between 200 and 1000 that's calculated from the STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) exam and the California High School Exit Examination results; schools aim for a score of at least 800. 

But educators say that's hardly a full measure of a school's effectiveness. Parents often have to dig for other relevant information such as class sizes and graduation rates.

Read More...

US grant funds $20,000 teacher bonuses at 'high-need' LA schools

Deasy walks campus

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

LAUSD plans to give $20,000 bonuses to up to 80 "effective" science, technology, math, engineering and special ed teachers who agree to teach at 40 high-need schools under a new federal grant.

Los Angeles Unified Schools Superintendent John Deasy said that a $49 million federal grant awarded to the district this week to improve teacher effectiveness will help pay for a new multiple-measure teacher evaluation system and more professional development programs, including a bonus for certain teachers at high-need schools.

The five-year grant includes an initial $16 million; more money would follow based on availability and the district's progress. The grant award details say the school district can use Teacher Incentive Fund grants to support performance-based pay for effective principals and teachers in 40 "high-need schools." 

The district plans to use effective educators as coaches and models for their peers' professional development. Teachers who are experts in their subjects will provide coaching based on information from the evaluation.

Read More...

New CA law will focus less on test scores as part of API

scantron standardized test

timlewisnm/Flickr Creative Commons

A new California law will focus less on test scores in calculating the annual Academic Performance Index measures that are often used by schools and parents to rank their overall performance.

The Academic Performance Index --  a number that educators and parents have obsessed over to rank their schools' performance each year -- will focus less on student test scores and more on a school's overall ability to prepare students for college and the workplace under a new measure Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law.

SB 1458 by Democratic Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento became state law Wednesday. It limits test scores to no more than 60% of the API for high schools and at least 60% in elementary and middle schools. The remainder of the score will factor in graduation rates, students' preparedness for college or technical training and graduates' ability to compete in the global job market.

"For years, 'teaching to the test' has become more than a worn cliche because 100% of the API relied on bubble test scores in limited subject areas," Steinberg said in a statement. "But life is not a bubble test and that system has failed our kids."

Read More...