Pass / Fail | So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

First academic study of controversial LA Unified teacher evaluation program

Pilot program using student tests scores to evaluate teacher gets its own good grade in first study.
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An academic study of a teacher evaluation method that looks at how much teachers are able to improve students' test scores gave the pilot program a good grade. But the study comes too late -- the teacher's union and Los Angeles Unified School District agreed not to use the measure in the district's new teacher evaluation protocols.

The Academic Growth over Time became a lightning rod of criticism by the teachers union and some academics. At issue was whether it was fair to judge a teacher's effectiveness by looking at how a student's test scores had improved from year to year. Critics say the method doesn’t accurately capture all the factors in and outside the classroom that go into improving a student’s test scores.

USC researcher Katharine Strunk studied how it was implemented in group of L-A Unified schools last academic year.

"It indicates that the principals and other leaders that were assessing teachers using these protocols did a nice job doing that," she said. "It means that the value added score, the AGT that was generated, is also a solid measure. I think it speaks well for the district.” 

Strunk released her findings at a San Francisco conference this weekend attended by other researchers and L.A. Unified administrators.


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Future of schools breakfast program has become a 'power struggle'

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy wants the school board to decide whether to keep Breakfast in the Classroom.
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In the latest power struggle in the nation's second-largest school district, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy is putting the future of a breakfast program for students up for a school board vote.

Breakfast in the Classroom uses the first 15 minutes of the school day to feed students a healthy meal to power their learning. The program -- which launched a year ago and it's in a third of district schools -- doesn't cost the district a dime. It's funded by state and federal grants. And yet, it's getting caught up in a political fight. 

"I think there's been sort of a power struggle here whether this program is working,” said L.A. Unified Board of Education member Nury Martinez. 

To understand that battle, it helps to know how the program was created. Breakfast in the Classroom was the first project of the L.A. Fund for Public Education, a fundraising group created by Deasy and well-connected philanthropist Megan Chernin.


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#KidReads: Parents and kids read their favorite books

Sada Mozer, the children's librarian for the Junipero Serra Branch, reads "Oh!" by Josse Goffin to Trinity Street Elementary School fifth graders on Thursday morning.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Listening and speaking are foundations for learning to read and write. So as part of our #KidReads series,  we asked you which children's books you and your kids hold most dear. We suggested that you read us a few lines, too.

Everyone has a favorite children's book. What's yours? Record a story on our SoundCloud account. Share with us on Facebooktweet us @KPCC using the hashtag #kidreads. 

The responses have been wonderful. We aired a montage (listen at left) on Take Two, but thought we'd also post a wider selection here.

Many books look to teach us a lesson while inspiring us to be great 

One of those is "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Shashi Getanna reads us an excerpt. 

And he wasn't the only one to recommend this French classic. It was a topic of conversation in our live chat on literacy with KPCC's early childhood reporter Deepa Fernandes Tuesday. 


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NYC mayor donates $350,000 to help elect charter-friendly candidate to LAUSD school board

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote another big check to back candidates for L.A. Unified school board. To date, he's given more than $1.3 million.
Brendan McDermid/Reuters/Landov

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is again filling up the coffers of the Coalition for School Reform and its campaign to elect Antonio Sanchez, a former staffer for L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, to the Los Angeles Unified school board.

He donated $350,000  to the coalition this week.

Sanchez is facing off against lawyer and teacher Monica Ratliff to represent the east San Fernando Valley on L.A. Unified’s school board. The election is May 21st. The position pays less than $50,000 a year -- but school board races this year have drawn big money donations -- and spending.  

Bloomberg, a champion of Villaragiosa’s education policies, had already donated one million dollars in February to support three Villaraigosa-endorsed candidates – with mixed results. Of the three coalition-backed candidates, one won re-election and another lost. Sanchez was forced into a runoff. The coalition spent nearly one million dollars before the primaries.

Sanchez has only raised $15,000 since the primaries. Ratliff has raised even less: $7,000. The real money continues to come from independent expenditure committees, especially the coalition.


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Law that holds parents accountable for kids truancy applied differently across Southern California

A student reads in the classroom.
Jonathan Pobre/Flickr CC

Last week, six parents in Orange County who had let their kids miss up to 22 days from school were charged with two misdemeanors: contributing to the delinquency of a minor and failure to reasonably supervise or encourage school attendance. This last charge was born from a new law targeting parents who can’t seem to get their kids to school.

“It’s unfortunate in a lot of senses that we have to resort to prosecution," said Orange County Deputy District Attorney Frank Acosta. "But a lot of the time it’s the message that has to be sent, that there is a violation of the law and we have to follow the law.”

Acosta also said parents need to hear that they could go to jail for one year and pay a $2,000 fine if they continually refuse help getting their kids to class. Five Orange County parents arrested two years ago received probation.

“We’re not asking for jail in these cases,” Acosta said.


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