Deborah Victori Harrison
A 5th grade teacher at San Gabriel 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, Harrison ranked:
- Less effective than average 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.
- Less effective than average in English. Students of teachers in this category, on average, lost about 3 percentile points on the California Standards Test compared with other students at their grade level.
Harrison's LAUSD teaching history
2002-03 through 2008-09 academic years
- San Gabriel Avenue Elementary, 2009 - 2003
Deborah Harrison's Response:
By now, you must realize that this type of measure has gigantic flaws. You do not have any other data other than a flawed standardized test score. It does not take into effect the child' own desire to learn what is taught. Nowhere does it tell you if all of the children came prepared for learning that day or any day. The Times has chosen to browbeat the last person on the totem pole-the teacher. We have no control over what is taught or how the child will receive the lesson. But I am still disappointed in your newspaper. I only like the Sunday Times for its puzzle. Perhaps I will need to give it up soon.
First and foremost, I always tried to work with my students no matter where they were academically. My students were never on grade level which meant that I taught grade level standards and catch up skills. I always kept high standards for my class no matter what. I was always willing to learn more about how to teach a given subject, however, it is my belief that once teachers were not allowed teach reading or math without a script, students began to slip academically.
Secondly, our class sizes are too large. This last school year we were fortunate to limit class size in Grades 4 and 5 to 25 (still too large). When I first started teaching, I had a 6 hours Educational Aide. Our class was no more than 25. We were able to work with small groups of children. Supplies are also limited especially if the class gets over 30.
Thirdly, we need to be able to teach and then assess. If a student(s) did not get the concept, then I should be able to reteach the subject differently. But there was absolutely no time in the district lesson plans for this. My offer each year to the students was that they could come into my room before school, recess, lunch, and after school for any additional help. This rarely occurred, only those students whose parents wanted thr students to improve and could not do so at home.
I have been disappointed over the last several years how teachers are treated by the district and by other entities not involved with education. We seemed to be blamed for the failure of education. But I contend if everyone, including anyone not in the classroom, taught children for some period of the day, there would be success. There would be lower class sizes. Get rid of all scripted programs and let the teachers teach. There are too many people out of the classroom. If school received enough funding to make sure each child has what he or she needs to learn, then I believe education would improve. The Times could have used the money for this study to help teachers and schools improve. Teachers know when the students are not understanding something, but we are tied to a pacing plan that moves at the speed of a bullet.
Finally, after 36 years of teaching, I retired in May 2010. The teachers were being let go and I thought maybe 1 teacher could give a spot to one of these teachers. The fact that the school board gave away 250 schools and thought nothing about giving public money to a private school (charter), made me feel it was time to go. I believe that I could have taught at least 2 more years. I would have used this Times information to better myself--to improve the quality of my teaching. Hopefully my former school will provide adequate training in classroom discipline, how to teach to improve test scores and how to catch students before they fall between the cracks.
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.