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Mediator Named in Deadlock Over Teacher Evaluations

Samantha Oltman | October 23, 2012

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Mediator Don Raska has been appointed to try to help resolve the teacher evaluation negotiations between LAUSD and the teachers union (UTLA), according to a UTLA newsletter.

The October 19th issue of the United Teacher states that, “the union continues to push back against LAUSD’s proposal to link a percentage of a teacher’s evaluation to his or her individual Academic Growth Over Time score. AGT is LAUSD’s version of VAM, or value- added model, which research studies show to be an inaccurate and unstable measure of teacher effectiveness.”

The two sides have been deadlocked despite pressure to meet a court-ordered deadline of December 4, 2012. LAUSD last month declared an impasse and requested mediation, which union head Warren Fletcher called “premature.”

At the heart of the dispute is how to implement a recent ruling in the Doe v. Deasy case, which requires that student test scores be included as a factor in teacher evaluations. That ruling was based on a lawsuit against LAUSD brought about by a group of parents who claim the district is not complying with the Stull Act, a 1971 law that requires student progress be used in performance evaluations of teachers.

But the teachers union has rejected the use of any testing data as part of the evaluation process, especially the measurement favored by LAUSD Superintendent Deasy, called Academic Growth Over Time (AGT). The union is under increasing pressure after AALA, the union representing principals and administrators, agreed last month to use AGT as a component in principal evaluations.

Scott Witlin, a lawyer who represented parents in the suit, says the Stull Act requires two factors to be measured when evaluating teachers: “First, you have to account for the academic progress of pupils towards the standards of the local district, and second, when applicable, you account for the progress of pupils according to California standards tests.”

LAUSD and UTLA have until December 4 to come to an agreement. If they don’t, according to Witlin, the judge could hold UTLA or LAUSD in contempt. “The date wasn’t picked out of a hat – all parties agreed they could get the job done by then.”

Related posts: LAUSD-UTLA Headed to Mediation, UTLA Calls Mediation Request “Premature”

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