Margo Suzanne Lessner

A 3rd grade teacher at Tulsa Street 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.

Overall value-added effectiveness

Math effectiveness

English effectiveness

Compared with other Los Angeles Unified teachers on the value-added measure of test score improvement, Lessner ranked:

  • Average overall.
  • Average in math. Students of teachers in this category, on average, did not gain or lose significantly on the California Standards Test compared with other students at their grade level.
  • Average in English. Students of teachers in this category, on average, did not gain or lose significantly on the California Standards Test compared with other students at their grade level.

Lessner's LAUSD teaching history

2002-03 through 2008-09 academic years

Margo Lessner's Response:

Test scores are yet a small component of a teacher's effectiveness in the classroom, because no tool can measure an educator's overall effect on children - especially when some come to us with undiagnosed learning disabilities, while others arrive with other issues that affect learning, such as homelessness, abuse, neglect, and an absence of parental support. What measure is used to assess a teacher's 'value-added' effectiveness when addressing - and lovingly walking a child through - these profound problems?
Since the CST's have become a 'high-stakes test' for teacher evaluation, it should also be one for parents and students. Where is the parental accountability for making children study and do their homework? In addition, there are few consequences for students who have not met grade-level standards; they progress to the next grade because their parents usually have the last word on promotion- regardless of their teacher's recommendations.
A teacher's effectiveness simply cannot be measured by a bubble-in test. Beyond academics, children remember the love and encouragement and attention they receive from that educational professional who - in spite of the other 23 to 35 children in the room - strives to make each young person feel special. I have a hunch it's not the CST score that's important to each student at the end of their school year, but rather a spectrum of other elements that made their school year challenging and rewarding, and yes, even 'fun'.
But enough of my thoughts; after all, these opinions are only that of an 'average' value-added teacher with over a decade's classroom experience. To get some real perspective on this issue, I would suggest the L.A. Times do some truly ground-breaking journalism and ask the students what they think.
Like many of our students, you might be surprised what you learn.

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.

Do the ratings in this database reflect your experience or your child's experience in the teacher's classroom? Do you believe this is a helpful tool for parents?
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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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This page was created by the Data Desk, a team of reporters and Web developers at The Times.