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Court ruling allows LAUSD to keep redacting teacher scores by name

Craig Clough | November 13, 2014

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Judge Rolf Treu affirm vergara decisionThe California Supreme Court yesterday declined to review a case that allows LA Unified to redact teachers’ names before publicly releasing a statistical ranking based on their students’ standardized test scores, according to Metropolitan News-Enterprise.

The lawsuit was brought by the Los Angeles Times against LA Unified, as the paper has been seeking for several years to get the district to release the unredacted names of teachers connected to their Academic Growth Over Time (AGT) score. An AGT score is calculated by comparing students’ California Standardized Test scores with the scores the students were predicted to achieve based on some socio-economic factors.

The district had crafted the AGT scores in an effort to use them in official teacher evaluations, but under a 2012 agreement with United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the district does not use individual AGT scores in teacher evaluations and only uses school-wide AGT scores. UTLA, in following with other major teacher unions, objects to the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers, arguing that test scores do not give a complete picture.

A three-judge state appellate court ruled in July that keeping the names confidential did not violate the California Public Records Act and in doing so overturned a lower court ruling. Both the district and UTLA challenged the lower court’s ruling.

“We hold that the unredacted AGT scores are exempt from disclosure under the catch-all exemption . . . because the public interest served by not disclosing the teachers’ names clearly outweighs the public interest served by their disclosure,” the appellate court ruling stated.

According the Los Angeles Times, former LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy said in an interview that releasing the names would lead to resentment and jealousy among teachers, spur “unhealthy” comparisons among staff, cause some instructors to leave LA Unified and interfere with teacher recruitment, although he offered no evidence to back the claims up, simply stating that “it’s [his] belief” that would occur.

The district had publicly released the information for academic years 2003-04 through 2009-10, but has since refused to.

The original release of the information led to a series of stories by the L.A. Times that ranked the effectiveness of teachers that included creating a searchable database for users to locate the names of teachers and schools and how they fared on the Times’ rankings of effectiveness

The stories led to a staged protest by UTLA outside the L.A. Times headquarters in 2010.

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