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L.A. Times report unveils teacher performance data

Anyone interesting in the raging debate over using tests to rate teacher performance, in the District or anywhere else, should read the L.A. Times Sunday story revealing hitherto secret data on how well L.A. Unified School District teachers' students do each year.

Three Times reporters, Jason Felch, Jason Song and Doug Smith, said they found data, through freedom of information requests, on the performance of more than 6,000 third- through fifth-grade teachers "for whom reliable data were available." With the help of an independent expert on education data, they used an approach called value-added analysis, similar to what is being used in the D.C. schools, to rate, and sometimes fire, teachers. It compared how students did on average in each teacher's class compared with how they would be expected to do based on past performance.

Highly effective teachers, as measured by this analysis, "routinely propel students from below grade level to advanced in a single year," they said, while students in the classes of the least effective teachers lost ground.

The newspaper said it plans to publish an online database with ratings for the 6,000 teachers, identified by name, later this month. The Los Angeles teachers union president called for a boycott of the paper to protest the move.

This is a daring move by the newspaper, with potentially huge consequences for both sides in the debate, as you will see when you read what they have written. They take a few examples of teachers who have bad numbers and show flaws in their teaching methods, as well as teachers who look good in the classroom and in their analysis.

But they do not show any examples of what has to have occurred in at least some cases -- teachers who look bad in the classroom but have great numbers. Also, they focus on one award-winning teacher in a high-performing school whose students did not meet standard expectations in her classroom, but do not explain the statistical anomalies that can occur when a teacher like that starts with students who already test at the 80th percentile, with relatively little room for improvement.

We will be hearing a lot about this in the coming weeks. Let me know what you think.

Read Jay's blog every day, and follow all of The Post's Education coverage on Twitter, Facebook and our Education web page.

By Jay Mathews  | August 16, 2010; 2:37 PM ET
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags:  L.A. Times series on teacher performance, could have huge consequences for both sides of the debate  
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Comments

What happened to employee-privacy laws? Anywhere else, this info on teacher observations and ratings is strictly confidential, part of the employee file and not subject to this kind of public scrutiny.
If this gets published to the public, a lot of you-know-what will hit the fan. Nobody will be a winner here, especially the students.

Posted by: 1bnthrdntht | August 16, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

When is this coming to DCPS?
And Jay, what do you think of Michelle Rhee's decision not to move highly effective teachers to replace the least effective teachers?
She'd rather rely on "incentives."

Posted by: edlharris | August 16, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

When is this coming to DCPS?
And Jay, what do you think of Michelle Rhee's decision not to move highly effective teachers to replace the least effective teachers?
She'd rather rely on "incentives."

Posted by: edlharris | August 16, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

This is very sad. A lot of people posting to this site will make the usual comments about teachers not wanting to be held accountable. They don't realize that it doesn't take good teaching to have a class full of high scorers, or that even teachers whose students score well on these tests are not happy with having to teach to the test. They know the kids are being cheated of a good education.

Posted by: aed3 | August 16, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

It is going to be hard to statistically compare teacher's success unless, the classes being taught are uniform in terms of family income, family support and ethnic makeup.

School boards often give the best classes to the more experienced (or favorite)teachers. For example, in some schools, teachers have to share things like overhead projectors so, they spend the time between classes to gather these items whereas the senior teachers have rooms with all amenities.

Sometimes, new teachers get the larger classes in the smallest class rooms so that the chalk boards are almost inaccessible whereas some of the teachers get very spacious rooms with good access to the chalk boards.

So, if you are going to compare teachers, there is a need to compare only those who are teaching the same subjects in equal facilities. To be fair, let the teachers who are going to be compared, chose their students like we use to do when we choose teammates for such things as baseball.

Putting this comparison data will likely result in lawsuits

Posted by: LL314 | August 16, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Another thought-
How do they use this with teachers of AP classes?

Posted by: edlharris | August 16, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

More insanity and total lack of logic from Mr. Mathews.

A test of students and their ability to understand simple addition and subtraction will not indicate their ability to understand and learn multiplication and division.

Previous tests of arithmetic for students will not indicate the ability of students to understand and learn algebra.

This is not prep for the SAT where the same knowledge is required gone over in prep for later testing on the SAT.

One tires of this insanity.

And none of this nonsense takes into account the problems of the Title 1 poverty public schools where rates such as 56 percent of students failing in 4th grade reading in reading on national tests are common and simply mean later failing in the ability to read on later tests.

Any class consisting of only those failing the 4th grade in reading will probably all fail the 5th grade reading exams. There are no miracle working teachers.

We continuously avoid this problem with our pretense that children that fail to read in the fourth grade should not be made to redo the grade but simply go on when they have clearly shown they have not mastered the skills for the next grade.

Please no more insanity and total lack of logic from Mr. Mathews.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 16, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

More insanity and total lack of logic from Mr. Mathews.

A test of students and their ability to understand simple addition and subtraction will not indicate their ability to understand and learn multiplication and division.

Previous tests of arithmetic for students will not indicate the ability of students to understand and learn algebra.

This is not prep for the SAT where the same knowledge is required gone over in prep for later testing on the SAT.

One tires of this insanity.

And none of this nonsense takes into account the problems of the Title 1 poverty public schools where rates such as 56 percent of students failing in 4th grade reading in reading on national tests are common and simply mean later failing in the ability to read on later tests.

Any class consisting of only those failing the 4th grade in reading will probably all fail the 5th grade reading exams. There are no miracle working teachers.

We continuously avoid this problem with our pretense that children that fail to read in the fourth grade should not be made to redo the grade but simply go on when they have clearly shown they have not mastered the skills for the next grade.

Please no more insanity and total lack of logic from Mr. Mathews.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 16, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Jay,

Work to get the Post to do the same analysis of teachers in the Washington Metropolitan area.

Whether it should be used to evaluate teacher's pay and performance is a matter for union negociators and school boards. Whether parents should have access to such analysis is almost indisputable-- if the underlying data is public and all that needs to be done is throw MATLAB at it and do some statitical analysis, not doing the analysis is an act of willfully depriving parents of information that could be used to guide their child's education.

Posted by: randwaldron | August 16, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post is an American icon. It's the newspaper that brought down a President of the United States in defense of the rule-of-law nearly forty years ago. That was then though, now its Kaplan's Washington Post.

The Post and the nation has seen the Reagan Revolution and the rise of the "neoliberals" whose mantra is privatize all profits and make public all debt. They are working to "starve the beast" or reduce government to the point that as Grover Norquist put it, "we can drown it in a bathtub."

In that post-Watergate era, The Washington Post made a deal with the devil, the scamers at Kaplan, a pioneer in the movement to privatize public education. That deal brought Bill Gates and Warren Buffet into influential positions with the newspaper. That deal led to mayoral control of the DCPS. That deal made the same Post that had vanquished Richard Nixon a lapdog of figures as small as the sad little Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

That 7% decline in Washington Post stock today cited by Nick Anderson brings the stock's year-to-date decline to 28%. More market traders are "shorting", betting against The Washington Post today than at any time in two decades. The big money thinks The Post is down for the count.

Understandably, Kaplan's corporate management, which controls the editorial board of The Washington Post, never cared about the newspaper beyond the profits it might generate and the propaganda value it brought to campaign to destroy public education. But those who work for this once-great paper are another matter and should realize that as they participate in the dismantling of the DCPS, they are helping to dig their own graves.

Talking to you Nick, Valerie, Bill. Jay Mathews, feel free to ignore this comment, you sold your soul to these con artists long ago.

Posted by: natturner | August 16, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm very disturbed by the way in which the Times is publishing this data and the article leading up to it. In this piece, a clearly ineffective teacher by many other measures, I might add, is exposed. Do we need to publicize lower test scores to "out" teachers?

The use of value-added scores does not inherently bother me but I have a few major questions:

1) Is the model that the LAUSD is using valid for the purpose?

2) What is the research that shows that the "value" is reliable?

3) What differentiation is there for dissimilar populations of students in the same grades? (for example ELL and special ed)

4) How does value added apply to high poverty-low achievement schools and low-poverty/high achievement schools? (meaning: what makes the value-added valuable if many other teachers at same types of schools are "failing" or garnering very high achievement overall?

Posted by: Nikki1231 | August 16, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Before I make my comments, I'd like to pose this question: What do you think would happen if the SAT were delivered to a school building a week in advance and then administered by teachers to the students in their classes?

If you answered, "The tests would likely be invalidated because teachers and students would know what was on them," you'd be correct.

That is the situation with these state tests. There is very little security around them so I just can't imagine why a major newspaper like the Los Angeles Times would assume that the results are valid. Maybe one "expert" believes these tests capable of determining which teachers are "effective" and which are not, but many other experts would disagree. In fact I'm fairly certain that most would disagree. High scores for the students of one teacher could mean the teacher is excellent or it could mean she coached her class and made sure they knew the exact items on the test. The Times has no way of knowing this information.

There are also legal and ethical questions. Among journalists I'm certain there are those who are excellent, mediocre and barely hanging in there. Would they want to see a published list of all the reporters on the Los Angeles Times, listed from "highly effective" to "ineffective" based on the number of responses to their stories? Also, is it right for a reporter to suggest why a teacher might be "ineffective" when principals and parents have deemed her highly effective? Is this legal or is it libel?

It will be very interesting to see how this story develops. The public might have the right to know if teachers are effective or not, but teachers have a right to a fair and just evaluation. They also have a right to protect their reputations. I'm not sure what "right to privacy" means in this context, but that sounds good too. My guess is that teachers will get an injunction while the details of this case are studied. I hope the teachers pictured in the article and labeled as "ineffective" get a nice settlement from the newspaper.

We really ARE in a "stupid" period right now!

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | August 16, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Linda/RetiredTeacher---You make an excellent point. The best LA teacher I know told me today he wouldnt accept these results unless the exams were professionally proctored, which apparently they are not, at least in elem schools.

natturner---I am afraid you are stuck in some alternative reality. I have know many of the members of the Post editorial board, and the chairman of the company, for decades. Suggesting that they are being controlled by Kaplan is nuts.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | August 16, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Article referred to by Mr. Mathews.
Who's teaching L.A.'s kids?

Other studies of the district have found that students' race, wealth, English proficiency or previous achievement level played little role in whether their teacher was effective.
..................................
Yes it is just as likely for a child with very little skills in English to learn reading English from the supposedly average effective teacher, as it is for a child with skills in English to learn reading English from the supposedly average effective.

Based on this absurdity, besides teaching children to read English, we should also teach every child to learn French or another language since according to this logic no prior skills in a language are needed to learn how to read in that language. Just bring in the average effective French teachers and at the same time all the children are reading on the 4th grade level in English, they will also be reading in French on a 4th grade level.

How can anyone believe that absurdity that Mr. Mathews presents?

Any student can learn to read from the average effective teacher. Absurd.

Any student can learn algebra from the average effective teacher. Absurd.

The skills and ability of students have nothing to do at all with the ability of students to learn. Absurd.

Mr. Mathews has to stop presenting absurdities.
.................................
Bet you that Mr. Mathews will try to tell us that being an effective teacher does not equate to children learning.

The only problem though is that the measure of Mr. Mathews of an effective teacher is the results of tests, and not peer reviews of teachers.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 16, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Mathews should not be too ready to defend the Washington Post, when in the past he offered no explanation of their actions or his actions.

The Washington Post last year in an Editorial made the original false claim that all of the teachers fired, because of the failure of Ms. Rhee to manage a budget, were incompetent.

Yes the Washington Post has gone a long way from discovering the truth regarding Watergate to manufacturing falsehoods.

Mr. Mathews was asked to explain this and provided no information regarding this case of maliciously spreading a rumor. The Washington Post did not provide a retraction and Mr. Mathews in his column used the editorial to spread the malicious rumor that all the teachers were incompetent.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 16, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Here's my "tin-foil hat" contribution. :)

Rhee's PR representatives pitched this lousy idea for a story (L.A. Times report unveils teacher performance data) to the WAPO and the editors were smart enough not to take the bait. Then the flacks got the hacks at the LA Times on board. Remember, Rhee's agenda is much larger than DC. I fear the day she leaves DC. Then she's going to end up in California. Oh noes!

Posted by: stevendphoto | August 16, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

"Also, they focus on one award-winning teacher in a high-performing school whose students did not meet standard expectations in her classroom, but do not explain the statistical anomalies that can occur when a teacher like that starts with students who already test at the 80th percentile, with relatively little room for improvement."

Good point, Mr. Matthews. This is technically known as a "ceiling effect." At the opposite end are "floor effects" -- students starting in the lower percentiles don't have far to fall. Curiously, there was no discussion in the technical background paper of how this was dealt with. Perhaps because the author was an economist with no psychometric expertise?

Posted by: dz159 | August 16, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse


Teacher Revolution.
If we teachers aren't careful the public will begin to label us mistakenly the 'Party of No' in the education debate.
We don't like NCLB, we don't like Race To The Top, we don't like value-added assessment, yet we fail to propose and implement concrete alternatives to all the things debated in the public sphere. While there may be a rising tide of opposition, that wave will little impact if there’s not a lot of mass, thus energy in it.

I'm praying that people will begin to see why the Founders left education alone in the Constitution; it's too complex and too woven into intimate family decisions for the Federal government to meet the needs of all people all of the time. What works in Harlem may not work in SouthLA/Watts, no matter how closely the family income/demographics statistics match. Teachers must re-focus our attention on the two most important people in our education relationship: parents and students. All of our efforts must seek to satisfy their needs. Instead of complaining about what the edu-bureaucratic complex babbles about, improve your craft and commit yourself to your students and parents. These efforts must begin at each school, in each community versus being dumped upon everyone from some ivory tower or king’s castle.

There's little some pricey consultant can tell me that I can't find on my own, or my colleagues can provide or share to improve my pedagogy. As a professional my obligation is continually improving what I do each year.

Revolution starts with the individual, and it's past time every teacher start one, beginning with their own classroom, one student/parent at a time.

Posted by: pdfordiii | August 16, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

8/17/10 Here’s an excerpt from a great critique of the LA Times article:

“They [LA Times reporters] have, in fact, violated two fundamental principles of psychometrics: never use a test designed to measure one thing (e.g., student achievement) to measure something it was not designed to measure (e.g., teacher effectiveness), and never use a single test score or measurement type to draw definitive conclusions (particularly not in the social sciences). Further, they have made the fundamental error of assuming that correlation (Teacher A's kids scores are higher than Teacher B's scores) equates with causation (Scores rose primarily BECAUSE of the superior teaching skills and methods of Teacher A).

In fact, the above-cited article is so fraught with error and leaps of logic (and bad faith) as to be utterly, irredeemably worthless, not unlike the test scores upon which its false (and probably libelous) conclusions are based.”

To read the whole thing, click here:
http://rationalmathed.blogspot.com/2010/08/la-times-cracks-out-of-turn-when-it.html

[This comment is re-posted from the Strauss blog.]

Posted by: efavorite | August 17, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Interesting articles comparing two totally different ways to determine student success and teacher "effectiveness:" Jay's and Valerie's.

I'm a firm believer in data-informed, rather than the LA and DC public school's model of data driven/value added. If, for no other reason than one (data driven) focuses almost exclusively on the teacher...the other on the both the teacher AND student (data driven).

But one thing missing from both of the evaluation method's, and from most teacher evaluation's, is a conference between the teacher and evaluator at the beginning of the year to discuss the students, their strengths and weaknesses, the kinds of strategies that might be effective, the potential problems, among other important "data" and information that might help the teacher meet the educational needs of the student. A meeting between the current teacher and prior year's teacher(s) might also be helpful, if possible.

To walk into a classroom for one or two 30 minutes with a few drop bys (which is pretty common..some don't even get that) and expect to understand the quality..or lack of...teaching and learning is like flipping through the remote...watch a homerun by your favorite team with bases loaded, flip past, only to find out they lost the game 12 to 4, then fire the manager, is ludicrious

We are moving to an education model where teaching and learning are considered mutually exclusive.

But to focus on students and learning the way it should and could be done takes money, more teachers, smaller class sizes, with more planning time thrown in (something most school division's, state legislature's, and the fed's have been unwilling to do since I started teaching in 1970).

The current data driven/value added accountability model to determine the teacher's effectiveness, is relatively cheap and absolves all administrators, politicians, and many parents and students from accepting their responsibility to the learning model called American public education.

Posted by: ilcn | August 17, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

randwaldron wrote: Work to get the Post to do the same analysis of teachers in the Washington Metropolitan area.
____________________
As a teacher in MCPS, the outcome would be very easy to predict. Bethesda and Potomac schools --high scores. Silver Spring schools--low scores. The effectiveness of the teaching staff would have little bearing on these test results.

Posted by: musiclady | August 17, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Jay,
Astute teachers would have noticed problems in all four teachers' practice, not just the two "low-performing" teachers. For instance, the first teacher (high "value-added") is described during a math lesson where one student is doing a problem on the board while the others watch. He asks the class if they agree with his answer, and they all respond "Yes" in unison. He affirms that "they're getting it."

A better thing to do would have been to ask students to explain WHY the answer was correct, to assess their understanding of the underlying mathematical logic of the problem. This is not to suggest that he's a bad teacher, or that I assume he does that all the time, but it does show that there's more to this teaching thing than just, "Derrr...his kids' test scores went up, he iz must be good teacherrrr."

That this ran in the paper shows two things. One, random reporters at the LA Times are not skilled enough to evaluate effective teaching in the classroom. (Neither, apparently, are most readers of said paper.) Two, teacher decisions are not necessarily reflected in the data (90% of student gains on tests are the result of factors that can't be attributed to the teacher).

http://failingschools.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/scandalize-their-names/

Posted by: TeacherSabrina | August 17, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in Taiwan and taught in northern Va for 7 years. The education reform and policies have never stopped amusing me. If this country ever wants to improve education and make students more competitive, it needs to stop blaming teachers.

Don't get me wrong. I personally worked with some very ineffective teachers. However, research has shown family environment and support are the major factors that decide students' learning motivation and outcome. And come on..this is common sense. Is it rocket science?

We all know that students in Finland, Germany, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Taiwan...do very well on international assessments on math, science and reading. Does it mean those countries have the most effective teachers in the world? If we hire those teachers to teach children in LA public schools, do you think those teachers can produce same results?? We all know the answer already. I know these teachers would scream and run back to their countries in three days.

USA is losing its competitiveness. Ignoring the real issues won't change anything. As someone coming from a country where education is highly valued, I can tell you no one in my home country is so crazy to ask teachers to replace parents and to be responsible for parents' and society's failures.

Politicians and journalists who have no background or experiences in public school education should close their big mouths.

Posted by: salukiindc | August 17, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

A Canadian educator once told a conference that: "the benefits of education, the parts that are worth the effort will continue to remain elusive and invisible". In my experience as a teacher, I found this to be very true. For one, very important thing, the benefits of education are long term in nature and cannot be measured on short term, semester by semester basis.

The profession of teaching is not the same as the making of widgets, whereby a certain amount of content is introduced under fixed conditions and are all subjected to a similar process, and then measured to determine whether or not the expected tolerances have been met. Each classroom is different, and different teachers have different strengths, just as students might learn best with particular teaching styles. If students come from a prior class during which the students were turned off, then the next teacher might have great difficulty in reaching the students. If students go to a class just after receiving results of a test, their moods will be diffefent depending on the results of the test.

Unless there is, always, a certain correlation between good teaching and learning, it is truly impossible to determine which teacher is good, and which is poor, to any degree of certainty, except over a period of time and with classes of different makeups.

Student success in any class is no more certain than expecting peas from the same pod, being planted in the same general area to all develop to the same height and sturdines, and bear the same amount of fruit. Sometimes, a teacher's successes are students who fail, but who have performed beyond what could have been expected of them; and sometimes the failures are the good students, who get "A-" and "B+", but who have performed below their capabilities, such as getting an "A" with 86 %, when with good teaching the "A" should have been with 95%. And sometimes, the teacher fails with better students because teachers tend to want every student to succeed and may spend more time on the poorer students, thereby denying better students some of the benefits of teaching.

I wonder how reporters would react to evaluations by the general public, based on the way they are viewed by non-reporters. Until there is a way to measure, successfully, how any single student will perform in a classroom by factoring in parental attitudes, friends, well-being-- especially on examination days--and even reaction to class atmosphere, etc., it will remain difficult to measure teacher performance with any true degree of reliability. Sometimes, the best a teacher could do is identify the type of interests of the student (at the time) and design experiences to satisfy the needs of the individual student. Measuring teacher performance is not as simple as many outside of education might think.

Posted by: CalP | August 17, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

natturner---I am afraid you are stuck in some alternative reality. I have know many of the members of the Post editorial board, and the chairman of the company, for decades. Suggesting that they are being controlled by Kaplan is nuts.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | August 16, 2010 7:30

But Jay - Stop the spin - you know as well as I that the POST OWNS KAPLAN. http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20100817-710463.html

Posted by: Care1 | August 17, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, salukindc - that's the most convincing presentation I've ever seen of the obvious role of parents and teachers in children's education.

Posted by: efavorite | August 17, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

It would be nice if some of the posters actually took time to read the LA Times article BEFORE they posted. "Some teachers get AP classes" -- this is an analysis of elementary school teachers. AP isn't an option. Comments that the evaluation is unfair if the classes aren't matched for socioeconomic factors equally miss the point: this is a value added analysis that takes each child from where that specific child got last year and looks at how that child did this year, and then aggregates that across all the children that the specific teacher taught. This isn't comparing apples to oranges.

The fundamental problem is that for too long the unions have fought every effort to get rid of ineffective teachers, and fought to hide anything related to performance of individuals. The LA Times just played the trump card, and congratulations to them.

Posted by: bk0512 | August 17, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

"The fundamental problem is that for too long the unions have fought every effort to get rid of ineffective teachers and fought to hide anything related to performance of individuals."

How did the above myth get started? The fact is that for many years it was extremely difficult to hire and retain teachers for inner-city schools. Because of this, once a teacher was hired, the goal of the principal was to keep him or her regardless of effectiveness. In order to do so, almost every teacher (over 90%) was deemed "effective" or "highly effective." This is a matter of record. Legally an administrator always had the right to evaluate a teacher and give her an "ineffective" rating, but few chose to do so.

Unions do not hire, fire or evaluate teachers. Administrators do.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | August 17, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Do our teachers know where their FORCED union dues are going?


http://teachersunionexposed.com/politicalpower_money.cfm

Posted by: pjean | August 17, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Jay,

I'm really learning to respect you. At first I distrusted you about your change of mind of test scores. But now I see that I shouldn't have. My apologies.

Posted by: aby1 | August 18, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Many wonderful comments have been posted here. Please, go post your great comments at the LA Times. We need to give the public the other point of view.

Posted by: aby1 | August 18, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

randwaldron,

Why don't you go into teaching and be judged by this method?

Or let's judge you on your current job with this method? What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Since you believe in this method and its clearly unfair you need to tell people it is unfair.

Posted by: aby1 | August 18, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

If a teacher manages to produce high scores, but does it by such methods that some students end up hating some subject and avoiding them whenever possible, is that teacher effective or ineffective? My high school I got A's in high-school chemistry, but I did it by reading the book and memorizing formulas and how to balance them, remembering them long enough to pass the test. I never really learned what happened when these formulas were balanced and no longer remember anything abuot chemistry except to avoid mixing chemicals if you don't know what you're doing. In college I took geology and biology because two units of science was required and these seemed the least "scientific" and I gambled that the lab work was the easiest to get through without understanding. Was I effectively taught or not?

Posted by: sideswiththekids | August 18, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

salukiindc -

Can you go over and post at the LA times?

Actually I would like everyone here to do that. But salukiindc has an international perspective.

Posted by: aby1 | August 18, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Although I don't think everyone natturner says is corrupt is actually corrupt, there has been a part of WaPo has been corrupt in regards to education.

I totally understand how he feels, some people of WaPo have tried to turn teachers into the whipping boys of the education field. Their cruelty has been shameful. I think that natturner's response is just the natural one to abuse.

I hope that natturner will be able to help stop the shameless abuse of teachers that is going on in some parts of the press and in politics.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 18, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

sideswiththekids,

"If a teacher manages to produce high scores, but does it by such methods that some students end up hating some subject and avoiding them whenever possible, is that teacher effective or ineffective?"

You and I know that, but the politicians and many non-educational journalists (like those at the LA Times) don't.

Why don't you tell the LA Times that. Not that the journalists who wrote the article will listen you, they won't. They have too much invested in test scores. But the public will read what you write, and you may be able to influence them.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 18, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"We don't like NCLB, we don't like Race To The Top, we don't like value-added assessment, yet we fail to propose and implement concrete alternatives to all the things debated in the public sphere." It's called the anti-accountability posture of teachers, only many teachers are NOT against being held accountable. Their unions though, attempt to brainwash them into believing that accountability is an undesirable quality. NONSENSE.

Every district in the country will be doing what was done in LA, and sooner rather than later. For the cowards out there afraid of being graded on their work, too bad. You're not going to be able to hide much longer.

The good part of this practice, many will discover that most teachers are, in fact, doing a good job, and if they aren't, they should be given whatever help the district has at their disposal (mentoring, prof development). If they still don't improve they should be steered out of the profession.

Posted by: phoss1 | August 21, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

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