California's public school system, once the best in the nation, is now vying for the worst in the nation. The biggest problem to improving teacher performance - teachers unions. Thus it should be no surprise at all that when the LA Times decides to dig through the standardized testing data on performance by the students of particular teachers, the Los Angles Teachers Union starts squealling like a stuck pig:
The Los Angeles teachers union president said Sunday he was organizing a "massive boycott" of The Times after the newspaper began publishing a series of articles that uses student test scores to estimate the effectiveness of district teachers.
"You're leading people in a dangerous direction, making it seem like you can judge the quality of a teacher by … a test," said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, which has more than 40,000 members. . . .
Based on test score data covering seven years, The Times analyzed the effects of more than 6,000 elementary school teachers on their students' learning. Among other things, it found huge disparities among teachers, some of whom work just down the hall from one another.
After a single year with teachers who ranked in the top 10% in effectiveness, students scored an average of 17 percentile points higher in English and 25 points higher in math than students whose teachers ranked in the bottom 10%. Students often backslid significantly in the classrooms of ineffective teachers, and thousands of students in the study had two or more ineffective teachers in a row.
The district has had the ability to analyze the differences among teachers for years but opted not to do so, in large part because of anticipated union resistance, The Times found.
The newspaper plans to publish an online database with ratings for the more than 6,000 elementary school instructors later this month.
While I will grant that this type of analysis should not be the only metric used by schools - and parents - to evaluate teachers, it is certainly central to any evaluation. And if, in fact, teachers are employees of the public, then it is beyod question that this is something the public has a right to know. Hats off to the LA Times for doing the analysis and running this story while the school board cowered. As the the unions, this is just one more reason among thousands that public sector unions need to be made unlawful.
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