Marian Dale Shellenberger
A 5th grade teacher at Mayall 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.
Compared with other Los Angeles Unified teachers on the value-added measure of test score improvement, Shellenberger 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.
- 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.
Shellenberger's LAUSD teaching history
2002-03 through 2008-09 academic years
- Mayall Street Elementary, 2009 - 2003
Marian Shellenberger's Response:
Since I began teaching in 1967, I have had immediate, as well as, long term positive feedback from students and their families. I teach the curriculum and provide a rich, well-rounded program to my students. I am always very responsive to students and their parents. My colleagues and administrators have always observed that I am an excellent teacherand a life-long learner...and I am!! Your evaluation in the "least effective" type of evaluation I have ever seen. Do you realize that this makes good, hard-working, dedicted teachers like me feel helpless? Do you realize that this drains our enthusiasm for teaching? Fortunately, our real bosses (the parents) do really know what we are doing for their children and show their appreciation and support! This undue emphasis on standardized testing is part of a whole political "game" that, if continued, may doom public education. Why would young people want to put in the effort to obtain this job to earn pay that is not commensurate with their level of education and to receive unfair criticism in a public forum? Also: Value-Added Models exacerbate the overreliance on standardized test scores. We are heading down a road of no return that will lead to the further narrowing of the curriculum, teaching to the test, and the exclusion of critical thinking skills, the arts, and any other area that is not measured by the standardized tests.
- Value-Added Models rest on a faulty premise—that high-stakes standardized student test scores can measure a teacher’s effectiveness. Standardized tests are imperfect measures already. They often do not test what students really know and, worse, they often test low-level skills.
- As stated in a July 2010 report by the U.S. Department of Education, more than 90 percent of the variation in student test scores is due to student-level factors that are not under the control of the teacher.
- Standardized test scores do not come close to measuring everything that teachers do. They are just a snapshot of a single point in time and should not be substituted for evaluating all the work the teacher has done the other 170-plus days of school.
- My fellow teachers and I do not support keeping a teacher in the classroom who clearly isn’t making the grade, but standardized test scores should never be the basis for determining that.
- VAM is another example of a “quick fix” that some policymakers embrace instead of doing the harder work of pursuing long-term solutions for public education. We already know what works to improve student learning: smaller classes, more resources for schools, relevant professional development for teachers, and time for teachers to work collaboratively on lesson plans and curriculum.
- The research base on VAMs is currently insufficient to support the use of VAM for high-stakes decisions about individual teachers or schools. Even supporters of VAM admit that it is a flawed, inconsistent system.
- Standardized tests were not designed to evaluate teachers and they are not valid instruments for doing so. Using standardized test scores to evaluate teachers will do nothing to tell teachers how to improve their practice.
- My colleagues and I agree that the evaluation system for both teachers and administrators needs to be overhauled, but using standardized test scores isn’t the way. The evaluation system should be designed to support teachers and help them grow in their profession.
- Policymakers who are pushing programs like VAM need to listen to parents. Parents want teachers to teach the whole child, and that includes the arts and high-level thinking skills. They do not want us to create a “culture of bubblers.”
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.