Favorite

They're grading the teachers in LA 

Did you hear about the Los Angeles Times? And did you hear about the teachers' union?

Let me educate you, so to speak.

The newspaper took seven years of student test scores in elementary grades in the  Los Angeles public schools, the nation's second-largest district, and designed a value-added system for assessing the effectiveness of teachers.

That is to say it ranked grade-school teachers over this period based on the relative improvement in the performance of their students on standardized tests.

The paper reported  Sunday — by name and with a picture of the under-performing teacher —on two fifth-grade teachers with classrooms down the hall from each other in an inner-city public school. One's classes started each school year scoring a little higher on tests on average. The other's classes ended the school year with higher test scores.

Implicit is the notion that the teacher whose kids started behind and ended ahead is better and ought to be compensated on that outcome rather than years of experience and degrees held.

The paper intends to publish on-line a database reporting the performances of 6,000 Los Angeles public school teachers in elementary grades.

So what did the teachers union do?

It organized robo-calls to teachers asking them to drop their subscriptions to the Times because of this attack on the profession.

There's even discussion of legal action against the paper, though I'm not sure how a public employee could devise a legitimate legal grievance from being held publicly accountable based on publicly reported data.

All of this strikes even nearer the heart of the public education debate than the roiling charter school controversy among Arkansas business leaders and the Little Rock School District. In fact, the Arkansas business group pushing for more charter schools in Little Rock — the Waltons and newspaper publisher Walter Hussman, mainly — are at least as intense about value-added teacher assessments.

Luke Gordy, the businessmen's hired hand, didn't know of the LA paper's undertaking until I informed him Monday morning. "That's just what we're talking about," he said.

Look for his group to press the state legislature next year for a law by which nontraditional teachers could more easily obtain alternative certification and get a chance at showing quantifiably what they can do, by much the same principle that charter schools get a measured chance to show what they can do. The contention is that good teaching can be an art or craft transcending the often-dated formulae of teacher colleges.

This issue tends to split liberals and center-leftists, some of whom side with teachers' unions and some, including those running the Obama administration's Education Department, who embrace further exploration and experimentation in performance-based pay for teachers.

I've heard all the teachers' objections to this kind of grading, but my sympathy wanes, to wit:

1. They call this an attack on the profession, when, in fact, it's an attack only on some in the profession. If you say some guy is a terrible newspaper columnist, you attack him, not all newspaper columnists.

2. They say a faculty works as a unit and that pitting one teacher against another for a monetary prize destroys any faculty teamwork. But any workplace is a team. Grading columnists based on readership shouldn't have any effect on the morale or performance of an editor, a reporter, a photographer or a page designer.

3. They say assessing a teacher by student test performance is akin to judging a dentist based on the number of cavities his patients have. Actually, though, this value-added system for assessing teacher performance is more like judging dentists based on the relative number of cavities filled properly over nine months.

The underlying point is that we need to get all our kids going to the best dentists available.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by John Brummett

  • Obstruction is the preferred conservatism

    Is there greater conservative virtue in opposing federal health reform, period, or in saying it ought to be implemented locally instead of from Washington in the event we are unavoidably laden with it?
    • Oct 5, 2011
  • A fate not quite as bad as prison for Lu Hardin

    There is no crime in being overly and transparently solicitous for the purposes of aggrandizement and personal political advancement. That's simply acute neediness, a common and benign human frailty.
    • Sep 28, 2011
  • Can we talk? Can we get anywhere?

    Dialogue is good. It would be even better if someone would venture off script every once in a while.
    • Sep 21, 2011
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in John Brummett

  • Gone to the DoG

    We're now longer carrying John Brummett's column in this space.
    • Oct 12, 2011
  • Obstruction is the preferred conservatism

    Is there greater conservative virtue in opposing federal health reform, period, or in saying it ought to be implemented locally instead of from Washington in the event we are unavoidably laden with it?
    • Oct 5, 2011
  • A fate not quite as bad as prison for Lu Hardin

    There is no crime in being overly and transparently solicitous for the purposes of aggrandizement and personal political advancement. That's simply acute neediness, a common and benign human frailty.
    • Sep 28, 2011
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Brant Collins named Group Travel Manager for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Brant Collins named Group Travel Manager for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal

Event Calendar

« »

March

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: More on pits

    • Society is also judged on whether it uses reason, or emotion to create laws. So,…

    • on March 28, 2017
  • Re: More on pits

    • My, my, I seem to have struck a nerve: Mr. E! Calm down, watch "The…

    • on March 27, 2017
  • Re: More on pits

    • Poor Investigator, no better than Clouseau at exposing the facts. You mistake compassion for patience…

    • on March 27, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation