Teacher Responses

The following is a list of teacher responses to their "value-added" ratings. In Aug. 2010, teachers were also invited to comment on their 2009 ratings.

The Times gave LAUSD elementary school teachers rated in this database the opportunity to preview their value-added evaluations and publicly respond. Some issues raised by teachers may be addressed in the FAQ. Teachers who have not commented may do so by contacting The Times.

This "value-added" rating doesn't reflect that in 2010 I had two students form another country. One came from Guatemala and the other from Honduras. Both didn't speak any English when they came to my class. It also doesn't reflect that two other students spent a year in Mexico and missed school before coming to my class. These students transfered to my class in January. I also had a little girl from El Salvador that came to my class a couple of months before the CST. Lastly, in 2010 and in 2011, I was teaching a Spanish 50-50 Dual Language Program. This does reduce the time that I can teach English Language Arts.

Albert Barragan
May 2, 2011 at 5:37 p.m.

My students were transitioning from a bilingual Spanish third grade class. This was their first full year of using an English Language Arts program (OCR). Many of my students made several gains acquiring the English language that was not acknowledge on the CST.

Rocio D. Ascano
April 30, 2011 at 9:43 p.m.

Regarding the validity of the Value-Added Method utilized by the L.A. Times, please read this article by Jesse Rothstein of the National Education Policy Center:

A study released last month by the Gates Foundation has been touted as “some of the strongest evidence to date of the validity of ‘value-added’ analysis,” showing that “teachers' effectiveness can be reliably estimated by gauging their students' progress on standardized tests” [http://articles.latimes.com/2010/dec/11/local/la-me-gates-study-new-20101211]. However, according to professor Jesse Rothstein, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley, the analyses in the report do not support its conclusions. “Interpreted correctly,” he explains, they actually “undermine rather than validate value-added-based approaches to teacher evaluation.”

Rothstein reviewed Learning About Teaching, produced as part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Measures of Effective Teaching” (MET) Project,for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Education.

Rothstein, who in 2009-10 served as Senior Economist for the Council of Economic Advisers and as Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, has conducted research on the appropriate uses of student test score data, including the use of student achievement records to assess teacher quality.

The MET report uses data from six major urban school districts to, among other things, compare two different value-added scores for teachers: one computed from official state tests, and another from a test designed to measure higher-order, conceptual understanding. Because neither test maps perfectly to the curriculum, substantially divergent results from the two would suggest that neither is likely capturing a teacher’s true effectiveness across the whole intended curriculum. By contrast, if value-added scores from the two tests line up closely with each other, that would increase our confidence that a third test, aligned with the full curriculum teachers are meant to cover, would also yield similar results.

The MET report considered this exact issue and concluded that “Teachers with high value-added on state tests tend to promote deeper conceptual understanding as well.” But what does “tend to” really mean? Professor Rothstein’s reanalysis of the MET report’s results found that over forty percent of those whose state exam scores place them in the bottom quarter of effectiveness are in the top half on the alternative assessment. “In other words,” he explains, “teacher evaluations based on observed state test outcomes are only slightly better than coin tosses at identifying teachers whose students perform unusually well or badly on assessments of conceptual understanding. This result, underplayed in the MET report, reinforces a number of serious concerns that have been raised about the use of VAMs for teacher evaluations.”

Put another way, “many teachers whose value-added for one test is low are in fact quite effective when judged by the other,” indicating “that a teacher’s value-added for state tests does a poor job of identifying teachers who are effective in a broader sense,” Rothstein writes. “A teacher who focuses on important, demanding skills and knowledge that are not tested may be misidentified as ineffective, while a fairly weak teacher who narrows her focus to the state test may be erroneously praised as effective.” If those value-added results were to be used for teacher retention decisions, students will be deprived of some of their most effective teachers.

The report’s misinterpretation of the study’s data is unfortunate. As Rothstein notes, the MET project is “assembling an unprecedented database of teacher practice measures that promises to greatly improve our understanding of teacher performance,” and which may yet offer valuable information on teacher evaluation. However, the new report’s “analyses do not support the report’s conclusions,” he concludes. The true guidance the study provides, in fact, “points in the opposite direction from that indicated by its poorly-supported conclusions” and indicates that value-added scores are unlikely to be useful measures of teacher effectiveness.

Derin K. Lowry
April 30, 2011 at 2:40 a.m.

My last day as a classroom teacher for LAUSD was September 24, 2004. I was the teacher of record for this class, but I taught the students whose test scores are the basis for this rating for 3 weeks.

Michele D. Brice
April 28, 2011 at 8:10 a.m.

Academic achievement is fostered through rigorous instruction, classroom management, and various enrichment opportunities.

Alexis S. Coleman
April 28, 2011 at 4:55 a.m.

I do not think it is fair that I am being judged on the year that I was on medical leave for pregnancy complications. I had the same issue with the last round and was told it was my worst year.

Leah D. Joubert
April 26, 2011 at 5:33 p.m.

NOTE: The teacher did not have this class the entire school year. Josefina took the class in January after the class's teacher passed away.

Josefina Zacarias Ay
April 25, 2011 at 3:57 p.m.

Although my scores in these areas of your data were both listed in the most effective range the first time they were printed and are still better than much of your new data, I strongly feel that you are doing a disservice to the teaching profession. You correctly stated above that these scores "capture only one aspect of a teacher's work", yet you give the public the idea that teaching is only about passing tests. This is all that education has become, passing tests. There is no mention about our many other responsibilities in teaching children, like teaching values for example. It makes me realize that most critics of education today have likely never been in a classroom or spent much time there. I taught for 31 years before retiring last year & I can tell you that the children coming into schools today have many issues they didn't have in past years. They are just reflecting our societies issues. By the way, why is parent accountablity rarely mentioned by critics? Are there lazy teachers out there not doing their jobs adequately? A small percentage that needs to get out of the profession. But if one thinks that every classroom is comprised of only average & above-average learners eager to learn, he/she has a lot to learn about education today. The whole system has to change & those supposedly in charge, don't get it. Making education all about testing is NOT the answer.

R J. Ricard
April 23, 2011 at 12:11 a.m.

I have been in the education profession since I graduated from High School, I've gone through all the courses, a masters program and yes, summer classes given by LAUSD. I use methods that I learned and gained through these classes and yet I am considered less effective. This rating does not show proof of my teaching or that of my peers. You do not consider the students abilities or lack of abilities in reading or math; their language levels (ELL); their support groups; or even if we as teachers raised individual scores in reading, math, or second language. How can we as educators expect our students to pass a test that is not related to the subjects or concepts that we are asked to teach? They are not allowed to use the everyday manipulatives that they use for reading and math during the test. The everyday language of the curriculum books and quarterly assessments, do not correspond to the language in the CAT6 or other State Mandated tests that our students are given and expected to pass in May. My effectiveness is seen by my parents and my students, they have gained in every subject and ELL level, I am very proud of them. I am a product of LAUSD, so if I am "failing my students, does it mean that LAUSD failed me?".

Gloria J. Garibay
April 21, 2011 at 11:03 p.m.

First of all, L.A. Times, it is absurd that you think I may use profanity, personal attacks, or threats in my response to your rating me as a teacher. Even "least effective" teachers such as I would not respond in that manner. Also, it is unfortunate that you wish to scapegoat the variety of problems of our educational system mostly on "teacher effectiveness" based on their students' test scores.

As your publication knows, our socially diverse society has a plethora of language proficiency levels, varied parental involvement, and a tradition of tracking students by language and academic need to a specific teacher(s). This situation makes teacher effectiveness based on student test scores invalid. ALL STUDENTS ARE NOT THE SAME. We're not talking about widgets. It is true that you state test scores are not the only consideration in rating a teacher. You know better.

No matter what, many people are HIGHLY INFLUENCED by student test score publications. Your publishing these test scores have kept teachers awake at night, including myself. Could it also be that some who have suffered a degree of emotional instability may not have survived your ratings? Do you plan to contribute to the "improvement" of education that way? Are you aware of the fact that some of the "least effective" teachers are highly respected by colleagues and administrators, and well liked by students and their parents? In the future would you quantify that information? On second thought don't bother. That data is probably not dramatic enough and too positive to be newsworthy. Now those of us who once again have received the L.A. Times scarlet letters L.E. for "least effective" must join the ranks of those teachers who must consider teaching to the test, even for those students not proficient in English.

Lilia A. Alzate
April 20, 2011 at 7:49 p.m.


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Los Angeles Teacher Ratings, the Los Angeles Times' database of value-added scores for Los Angeles Unified elementary schools and teachers.

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