L.A. schools chief says district will adopt ‘value added’ approach; Ramon Cortines wants the method based on student test scores to count for at least 30% of instructor evaluations. But the teachers union must consent.

Revamping teacher evaluations with the goal of helping instructors improve has become an urgent priority in the nation’s second-largest school district, Ramon C. Cortines, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District said in an address to administrators Wednesday. Cortines said the district will develop and adopt a “value added” method that determines teachers’ and schools’ effectiveness based on student test scores. And he told a packed Hollywood High School auditorium that he’s committed to using these ratings for at least 30% of a teacher’s evaluation. The plan would require the consent of the teachers union.

Cortines has a much better shot at getting the union’s consent because they don’t want to see anymore teacher names in the newspaper.  By agreeing to make test score data part of the evaluation (and human resource) system, it would become except from open records requests and no more public humiliation.

Commentators like Hess pointed out the flaws, but the LA Times analysis expanded conversation and gave the district a chance to make some small improvements in it’s teacher evaluation system. [8/30 addition: NPR story highlights teacher outrage but does little to capture outrage of parents who’s kids is trapped with an ineffective teacher.]

It will be fun to watch Ast. Supt. John Deasy hit the ground running.  He knows the district, Cortines trusts him, and he knows what levers to pull to make an impact. We’ll see how much reform the board can take.

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Tom Vander Ark is author of Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, The Power of Place, Better Together, Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and serves on the boards of Education Board Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, Mastery Transcript Consortium and eduInnovation. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.


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