Patt Morrison for August 16, 2010

It all comes down to the teachers: L.A. Times “value-added” analysis stirs teacher performance debate

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Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Office Max

How responsible for students' performace are teachers?

After the L.A. Times obtained test score data from the LAUSD on elementary school classes throughout the district and ran their analysis of how students performed under various teachers, the results were shockingly definitive: more than the socioeconomic background of the students, more than the quality of the school, more than the surrounding neighborhoods, more than even the English language skills of the students themselves; more than any other factor in predicting a student’s success in school, the quality of the teacher was the main determinant of whether a student will develop or regress. The L.A. Times examined the performance of more than 6,000 third-through-fifth grade teachers using “value-added” analysis that used standardized tests as the measure of achievement, a measuring stick that is not without its own controversies. If the results are to be believed it shows that teachers have greater impact on the success of failures of their students than anyone had previously acknowledged, which is sure to drive the debate on major school reforms.

Guest:

Jason Song, reporter for the L.A. Times & one of the authors of “Who’s teaching L.A.’s kids?”

Marty Hittelman, President of the California Federation of Teachers and member of the American Federation of Teachers’ Higher Education Program and Policy Council

Ben Austin, member of the California State Board of Education & Executive Director of Parent Revolution, a parent advocacy group


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