Teachers union president criticizes LA Times 'value added' teacher analysis

File photo: Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers, speaks during day one of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) at the Pepsi Center August 25, 2008 in Denver, Colorado.
File photo: Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers, speaks during day one of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) at the Pepsi Center August 25, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. Win McNamee/Getty Images

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten spoke to teachers and administrators at the Kedren Head Start Center in Watts. She said the L.A. Times is wrong to release test score data from thousands of L.A. Unified teachers later this month in its "value added" analysis. Weingarten also called for lawmakers to stay away from early childhood education budgets.

The Kedren Head Start Center is a daycare center in the Nickerson Gardens housing projects. It educates more than 100 2- to 5-year-olds.

The center runs on federal and state funding, and Weingarten told the center's staff that lawmakers need to keep their budget axes away from early childhood education.

Weingarten also spoke of the growing debate about teacher effectiveness in public schools. She said the L.A. Times is wrong to release later this month test score data of thousands of L.A. Unified teachers to show their effectiveness.

Education researchers, Weingarten said, have found the L.A. Times' data analysis, called "value added," to be flawed. The American Federation of Teachers, Weingarten said, supports an overhaul of teacher evaluations.

"Ultimately what this is, is some flawed methodology that's not ready for prime time, which is single measure, which everybody agrees should not be the sole measure but effectively because of the way the LA Times has done it, it is indicting teachers based upon some flawed methodology," Weingarten said.

She also opposes releasing teacher names with the test scores and sides with L.A. Unified's teachers union in opposing the Los Angeles Times' effort to release the test scores and teacher names.

The L.A. Times said it will release the scores and teacher names later this month to shed light on effective and deficient teaching in L.A. Unified. The federal education secretary said he supports the data release. Researchers within that agency say the value added method can be inaccurate.

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