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Union & District Clarify Positions on Teacher Evaluation

Hillel Aron | February 19, 2013

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UTLA President Warren Fletcher

After issuing strong objections on Friday, the teachers union is now taking a wait-and-see attitude to LAUSD’s new guidelines saying principals should prepare to evaluate teachers with as much 30% of the evaluation based on student achievement.

“We have to see how this rolls out,” UTLA President Warren Fletcher told LA School Report. “There’s a right way and a wrong way to roll it out. We want to make sure we preserve the good that’s in the agreement, so that every teacher can at least have a shot at a process that’s designed to help them approve, as opposed to numerical goals that might not relate to strengths and weaknesses.”

For its part, the district is indicating that there may be more flexibility in the guidelines than was initially understood. LAUSD General Counsel David Holmquist told LA School Report that the guidelines issued by Superintendent Deasy on Friday do not prohibit school principals from making student progress count for less than 30% of teacher evaluations.

“This is a recommendation from the Superintendent,” said Holmqiust. “There’s nothing that would prevent principals from doing less than 30%.”

Holmquist also admitted that the district could have done a better job notifying UTLA about the new guidelines ahead of time — an issue that several LAUSD School Board candidates raised on Monday.

Holmquist wasn’t all that surprised at the UTLA reaction.

“In hindsight, maybe we should have reached out to them about this,” he said. “It’s relatively predictable that they’re not going to be happy with anything that’s not specifically in the contract.”

He explained that the tentative agreement, signed in November, didn’t give specific weight to pupil progress – but it didn’t explicitly bar the Superintendent from sending out guidelines.

Holmquist said he expected to hear from UTLA’s attorneys.

“I’m sure we’ll get something from UTLA attorneys,” he said. “We seem to resolve a lot of our disputes in court these days — although I hope that won’t be necessary.”

Fletcher said that the union would consider taking legal action only if a school principal is seen to be imposing the 30% guideline across the board.

“If the Superintendent wants to advise principals, that’s an appropriate role,” said Fletcher. “But we negotiated an agreement that made sure weighting would be determined in real life classrooms. If specific numeric requirements are being created, that would be a violation of the agreement.”

Previous posts: Board Candidates Fault Process, Not 30% FigureDistrict Makes Student Achievement 30% of Teacher Evaluation*Implementing the Teacher Evaluation Deal

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