AirTalk for June 11, 2012

Ruling reached in suit targeting teacher evaluations, as LAUSD and UTLA agree to layoff deal

Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy speaks to reporters in this 2012 file photo.

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy speaks during a press conference at South Region High School #2 in Los Angeles, California

A tentative decision has been reached in the landmark Doe v Deasy case, the lawsuit aimed to force Los Angeles Unified School District to include student test scores in teacher evaluations. It would bring LAUSD in line with the state law known as the Stull Act.

This morning, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant said the district is not following the Stull Act and must comply by including pupil progress as a measure in teacher evaluations. Further arguments are expected to be heard tomorrow. Meanwhile, an agreement has been reached between LAUSD and the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA). Teachers will take up to ten unpaid days off in the 2012-13 academic year, which is expected to save the district over $100 million.

Should student scores be included as part of teacher evaluations? If you're a teacher, how does this impact on your work? Also, on the LAUSD/UTLA agreement - teachers, how do you feel about taking up to ten unpaid days off next academic year to help with the budget? What will it mean for your financial bottom line?

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy on the ruling:

"I agree with the judge's decision. I agree that the judge laid out the reasons for which the district must comport and comply with the Stull act in its entirety, including student achievement as a factor in student and administrator evaluation. It's exactly why we put together the pilot project and we did that with teachers. It's exactly why we've been rolling it out, so that we would comply. The district is prepared to do that quicker, and we'll see how the judge feels about that tomorrow."

"We need to comply with the law, which is to make sure we swiftly use measures of student progress as part of teacher and administrator evaluation."

"We do need to work with UTLA to create the best formal evaluation system. Obviously the one we have right now is neither completely legal nor doing the job right now, which the judge was so clear about."

UTLA leader Warren Fletcher on the ruling:

"Criterion-based tests, basically the state tests, are part of the evaluation process, as it reasonably relates to teaching to the standards. The definition of how it reasonably relates, how all of the mechanics of that works, are something that is bargained, negotiated between the district and UTLA. UTLA has objected to the fact that the district has unilaterally put the process together."

"We remain convinced and we remain firm that we will not be part of an evaluation system that will deform instruction. Any evaluation system needs to be about supporting teachers, helping them get better at their jobs, but the first step is to do no harm."

"As an English teacher, my job is to teach writing and to teach literature. If my pay is directly tied to, and my evaluation is tied directly to, and my ability to remain a teacher is tied directly to test scores, I'm going to spend a lot less time on writing and literature, and a lot more time giving my students a five-paragraph essay and asking them what the topic sentence of the third paragraph is. It mechanicalizes teaching in a way that is very dangerous for students."

Deasy on the pilot evaluation program:

"It's more than one voice, it contains multiple measures. The teachers, through the pilot we have learned, have given us tremendous feedback about its help in identifying and celebrating good practice. ... It's not linked to pay. I think it's a red herring in the conversation. High quality recognition of good instruction and helping teachers get better and supporting teachers is the obligation and the role around this work. So is the ability to be responsible for how students do in our overall evaluation."

Fletcher on the pilot evaluation program:

"Beyond the initial concern, which was it was designed without UTLA involved at all, it was something that was essentially imposed ... those of our members who did opt into the pilot program brought a lot of concerns to us about its unwieldiness, how it didn't address the actual day to day realities of teaching. The pilot program was something that was designed in an ivory tower at a distance from the realities of the classroom and that in many ways is just tone deaf to the realities of the classroom because it continues to try and quantify something in a weights and measures sort of way."

Fletcher on UTLA's proposed solution:

"UTLA absolutely concurs that the law says what it says and that criterion-based test data not only can be, but by law, has to have a role in the evaluation process. But it doesn't have to be the kind of 'summative' product."

"We have two kinds of assessment. Something called 'formative' and something called 'summative.' When you take your final exams, that's summative. When I give my students a test on Friday, that's formative. I find out whether they learn the content, and if they didn't, I have a job next week making sure that I cover the content in a different way. The evaluation systems that have been set up, like the pilot program, use the CST [California Standards Test] tests. ... If I teach my classes from September to June, I don’t' get the CST data for my students until August. I have no ability to use that data if I was doing a poor job, because it is data that always comes after my students are no longer with me. ... It is a quick and dirty data point."

"We have to a way to comply with the law, but to use it in a formative way that is not beyond our ability."

"We have developed a plan that we would love to bring to the district that recognizes that teachers needs different supports at different points in their careers. A 2nd year teacher has different needs than an 8th year teacher or a 15th year teacher, and we need to adjust how we use data in evaluating those different teachers."

Deasy on UTLA's proposal:

"Whether we think the state's criterion reference tests – that we should use them or not use them – de facto we must use them. That has been made very clear in the law; it is our responsibility. The second point is, could not agree with Mr. Fletcher more about differentiated support for supporting teachers."

"My question I don’t' seem to understand is, in the model that he is proposing, are teachers held accountable for how students do, versus improving their practice? And I would argue that it's both, it's not one or the other. Whether we use summative assessments – seems like we do that for everybody else on the planet: Students are held accountable for summative assessments, we, as adults, either pass or do not pass a driver's test – I'm not sure I understand how you comport with the law in a formative way."

"I think that we're really getting far afield of the issue of should a teacher be assessed based on how well their students do. In part. Not in total. That is why it is a component of an evaluation system, and a minor component."

"The notion about what we want to do for students is have them be successful and graduate college/workforce ready. I don’t' see anywhere in this district, in the many, many classrooms I visit, where there's anything that looks like deformed instruction. As a matter of fact, there's some of the most amazing instruction I've seen right from the teachers, particularly in some of the most progressive teacher-led schools in our pilot schools."

Fletcher on the pressure of 'teaching to the test':

"As an English teacher, ... I and my fellows are under immense pressure to make sure that we are teaching content that is in the test. Although we are assigned by our district and the state to teach all of the California state content standards, we are, at the beginning of the year, told, 'These are the power standards. These are the ones that are on the test. These are the ones that we expect to see you teaching.' The fact is that the standards on the test aren't the standards that lead to students who are literate, who can write well, and who can express themselves in a complex way. We are successful at teaching anyway, but it is despite that process, not because of it."

Deasy on the LAUSD and UTLA layoff deal:

"I'm just completely humbled by the fact that, again, everybody in the district has taken sacrifices so that we can keep students in front of the people who know them, care for them, help them every day. Thank you. [...] In L.A., in very dramatic fashion, people have stood up and said, 'We're going to take care of our kids, even when the state has not.'"

Fletcher's response to the deal:

"As far as the good news in the settlement: We're talking about 4,149 teachers immediately restored, plus several hundred others who are being returned out of the layout hearing process. ... Adult education will return. Early education program, that's returning. Elementary music, which was threatened with extinction, is returning. Elementary class size will not be making the 25 percent increase we were fearing."

"There is some potential bad news in the agreement, but it's potential bad news. Students and teachers might have a shorter year, but we have built into the agreement a sliding scale, so that the number of lost days ... could be all the way down to zero, and zero means a full instructional year for students. ... The solution to moving towards zero and eventually to zero is on the November ballot. The governor's funding initiative is the key to this agreement."

Guest:

Tami Abdollah, Education Reporter, KPCC

Dr. John Deasy, Superintendent of LAUSD

Warren Fletcher, President, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA)


blog comments powered by Disqus