Remember that the Los Angeles Times released the value-added ratings (made up by their own consultant) with the names of teachers in 2010?
Recently, the paper sued to get the ratings for three years-=-2009-2012. The LAUSD said it would release the ratings but not the names attached to them.
The public has no right to know the names of Los Angeles Unified School District teachers in connection with their job performance ratings, according to a court ruling issued Wednesday. In denying a request for disclosure by The Times, a three-judge state appellate court panel found that keeping the names confidential served a stronger public interest than releasing them. The panel overturned a lower court ruling ordering disclosure and rejected The Times’ assertion that the public interest of parents and others in knowing the ratings of identifiable teachers outweighed the interest in confidentiality.
Instead, the panel accepted L.A. school Supt. John Deasy’s contention that releasing the names would lead to resentment and jealousy among teachers, spur “unhealthy” comparisons among staff, cause some instructors to leave the nation’s second-largest school system, and interfere with teacher recruitment.
The judges said the specter of parents battling to place their children with the highest-performing teachers was of “particular concern.”
Is the rating based on test scores? Is it valid? Has anyone asked for the ratings of police or firefighters or other public employees?
Jim Ewert, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Assn., said the ruling was “unbelievable” and that accepting “conjecture” as evidence to deny public disclosure was “without precedent.”
“How a speculative declaration can rise to the level of clearly outweighing the public interest in disclosure is a mystery to me,” he said.
The Times sought three years of district data, from 2009 through 2012, that show whether individual teachers helped or hurt students’ academic achievement, as measured by state standardized test scores. L.A. Unified has provided the data but without the teacher names or their schools.
Using a complex mathematical formula, the district aims to isolate a teacher’s effect on student growth by controlling for such outside factors as poverty and prior test scores. The district sought to use the analysis in teacher evaluations but was resisted by the teachers union, which called it unreliable.
The court did not rule on the validity of the analysis, known in L.A. Unified as Academic Growth Over Time.
The judges did find that the public might have a right to know the schools where the anonymous teachers worked. They sent that issue back to the lower court for consideration.
Think about it. The LA Times published the names and ratings of individual teachers in 2010. Can anyone honestly assert that this data release improved the schools? Did it mean that the schools hired better teachers or that parents chose better teachers?
This is a thicket into which Race to the Top has led us, as districts and states across the nation use “value-added assessment” to measure the unmeasurable. No one has figured out how to make it work, but people continue to believe in it as if it were a magic talisman.