Helene Sherry Solomon
A 5th grade teacher at Birdielee V. Bright 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, Solomon ranked:
- More effective than average overall.
- More effective than average in math. Students of teachers in this category, on average, gained about 4 percentile points on the California Standards Test compared with other students at their grade level.
- More effective than average in English. Students of teachers in this category, on average, gained about 2 percentile points on the California Standards Test compared with other students at their grade level.
Solomon's LAUSD teaching history
2002-03 through 2008-09 academic years
- Birdielee V. Bright Elementary, 2009 - 2003
Helene Solomon's Response:
The Times has asked for my opinion of these scores. I respect your intelligence enough to reply.
Do these scores accurately evaluate the test results obtained by my students? Pretty much so. But they do not reflect the full rich curriculum I have provided children over the past 28 years of service to the district. I am a very competent teacher and I have proven myself by passing and renewing my National Board certification. I have been an NBC teacher since 2000.
My classroom addresses the needs of highly gifted students in an urban, socio-economically less advantaged neighborhood. The children in my room receive instruction in all of the curricular areas as well as enrichment in Research and Technology, Visual Arts, and Theater. My goal is to contribute to the creation of thinkers. My children are college bound, critical thinking, creative young people who will add much to society and will become tomorrows leaders.
I am not threatened by the release of these scores but I am very disappointed, for they are not a reflection of all we do for children in our school. And knowing them will not help you chose a better teacher or school. Knowing the scores helps us evaluate our own work. They should be used for reflection and remediation but not for public ridicule.
The scores reflect only one point, how much growth, read that "points" did a child improve from one year’s test to another. Now picture this scenario.
Your child masters second grade skills, earns near perfect scores on the state test. The next year in third grade, the test is harder, the curriculum has grown of course but now the child takes the test without oral teacher support. Your child passes, she is Advanced! However, she dropped 2 points or 5 or even 10. And every child in her room has done the same. The third grade teacher, an exceptional engaged teacher, displays scores in the Least Effective range. Her children all passed the test, but the points did not grow, they consistently dropped, across the board.
What matters? The rich, diverse curriculum the children received? Their passing tests? Or the point drop between the grade levels?
The child moves on to fourth grade, in this class she masters the curriculum and scores near perfect again on the state test. In several subtests she scores 100% in math areas. On to fifth grade, she is in my room, is taught the entire standards based curriculum, learns how to create her own PowerPoint displays, researches an area of interest to her that she chose herself (maybe Black Colleges, Fringed Lizards, Ancient Languages), and scores solidly on the state test but again has dropped several points in the Math section of the test. She still understands the curriculum and has demonstrated at the least Proficiency in all areas. Does the score affect her future school plans? No, she proceeds to the middle school of her parent’s choice.
Does her score affect my value- added rating? Yes, my math score drops to the effective range. Do I care? No, I have spent nearly 180 days contributing to the growth and maturity of a fine young woman who had a variety and wealth of learning experiences in my classroom.
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.