Researchers criticize LA Times teacher rankings

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A study out Monday by education researchers at the University of Colorado challenges the accuracy of the controversial “value added” teacher effectiveness measure that’s been championed by the Los Angeles Times.

This past August the LA Times ranked 6,000 LA Unified School District elementary school teachers into five groups, ranging from "most effective" to "least effective." The newspaper based the rankings on student test score improvement one year to the next.

The district’s teachers union blasted the method as an inaccurate way to dictate whether a teacher is good or not and accused the newspaper of being irresponsible. School district administrators, including incoming superintendent John Deasy, backed the use of the so-called value-added method.

The University of Colorado study raised concerns about the accuracy and precision of the newspaper’s teacher rankings. Researchers said adding other factors significantly changed teacher rankings.

The LA Times said the study broadly confirms the importance of the method. Teacher effectiveness has become a top priority for state and school district leaders. A LAUSD task force last year recommended the overhaul of teacher tenure, teacher evaluations by principals, and offering teachers higher pay in high need areas, such as low performing schools.