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District Makes Student Achievement 30% of Teacher Evaluation*

Hillel Aron | February 15, 2013

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LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy has issued guidelines to all principals regarding the new teacher evaluations, which will be implemented by the start of the 2013-14 school year.

But UTLA President Warren Fletcher says that the guidelines may violate the underlying agreement, which was ratified by UTLA on January 19th and approved by the School Board on Tuesday.

Under the new guidelines from LAUSD, assessment of student progress will account for up to 30% of a teacher’s total evaluation, comprised both of individual test scores and school-wide Academic Growth Over Time (or AGT). The majority of each teacher’s evaluation would be made up through “observed classroom performance and other similar factors,” according to a district press release.

The underlying agreement allowed pupil progress to account for up to 50% of a teacher’s evaluation, and barred the use of individual AGT — but it did not specify an overall figure for the combined individual and schoolwide achievement factors

UTLA President Warren Fletcher tells the LA Times that the 30% figure may violate the binding agreement that the union and district came to in December:  “During negotiations, Deasy had proposed a 30% figure and the union had rejected it. Deasy then pulled the fixed-percentage idea off the table, which allowed the two sides to come to an agreement, Fletcher said.”

According to a report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, 30 states require that teacher evaluations include some measure of student achievement. Many of these states, such as Colorado, Louisiana and Ohio, say that achievement must count for 50% of the teacher evaluations, although that is often divided into various methodologies, some of which are school-wide. New York teacher evaluations use 40%; Michigan is ramping up to 50% over the next three years.

“This is progress, no doubt about it,” said Ryan Smith, Director of Education Programs and Policy for United Way in an e-mail. “Thirty percent is a reasonable number. Hopefully now the district and union can devote their attention to strengthening the support system, so that teachers are getting what they need to be the best educators they can be.”

*Update: Reached by phone, Superintendent John Deasy explained to LA School Report why he settled on 30%:

“It’s not trivial, and it’s not insignificant. It is not a majority number. A lot of research has indicated that around a third is the appropriate rate.”

Deasy added that he thought 50% was too high a figure. He also said that the evaluations would allow room for a principal’s “professional judgement.”

When asked to respond to UTLA President Warren Fletcher’s comments that the hard 30% guideline may violate the agreement they made, Deasy replied:

“I have taken the appropriate responsibility so people can operate around here… You need to give a guideline, or else people can’t operate. I’ve interpreted it within the spirit and the letter of the contract.”

Previous posts: Reaction Roundup: Teacher Evaluation AgreementImplementing the Teacher Evaluation DealUnion Warns Against Rejecting Teacher Evaluation Deal

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