Daniel John Taylor
A 2nd grade teacher at Woodlawn Avenue Elementary in 2009
These graphs show a teacher's "value-added" rating based on his or her students' progress on the California Standards Tests in math and English. The Times’ analysis used all valid student scores available for this teacher from the 2002-03 through 2008-09 academic years. The value-added scores reflect a teacher's effectiveness at raising standardized test scores and, as such, capture only one aspect of a teacher's work.
Compared with other Los Angeles Unified teachers on the value-added measure of test score improvement, Taylor ranked:
- Least effective overall.
- Least effective in math. Students of teachers in this category, on average, lost about 10 percentile points on the California Standards Test compared with other students at their grade level.
- Least effective in English. Students of teachers in this category, on average, lost about 7 percentile points on the California Standards Test compared with other students at their grade level.
Taylor's LAUSD teaching history
2002-03 through 2008-09 academic years
- Woodlawn Avenue Elementary, 2009 - 2003
Daniel Taylor's Response:
The years that I taught 3rd grade were for Bilingual Waiver classes. Many of the students in those classes were taught primarily in Spanish, along with instruction in ESL. The students had various degrees of English language proficiency, and since Spanish was the dominant language for all of those students, the expectations were not that high for the CST scores for those students, since standardized tests were largely discounted as an assessment at that time. Also, it was expected that these bilingual students would perform much better on the Spanish counterpart of the CST -- the "Aprenda" test. These scores were not reported in the L.A Times database, nor were these tests even mentioned in the LA Times report:
Standardized testing is a useful tool to get an idea of how well students are mastering various topics. Scores from standardized tests should be used to help teachers focus on those skills in which students are coming up short. I'm not sure of the value of publicly labeling teachers as less or least effective at raising test scores, since the parents don't generally get to choose the teacher, any more than the teachers get to choose which students will be in their classroom. It is also worth noting that the gifted students and the ones with serious behavior problems have not been evenly distributed. This kind of public rating will most likely serve to reinforce those kinds of placements. And yes, these types of students (especially the latter) do affect the learning environment and performance of classrooms as a whole.
I'd bet that there are many "less effective" teachers who have seen their students make significant progress in writing and other areas that aren't necessarily measured on the CST tests. But the message we're getting from the LA Times public rating scheme is that these test scores are paramount. Teachers might feel compelled to do whatever it takes, by any means necessary, to get on the upper half of that Value-added Normal Curve. But the normal distribution of scores requires that half of the teachers fall below the 50th percentile or Statistical Mean Average. This means that when the Value-added Ratings of some teachers go up, it follows that others will be going down . . .
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.