Thursday, August 23, 2012


Tiger Online

By Shyam Senthilkumar |  Posted in Opinion,Web Exclusive South Pasadena High School Tiger Online |

smf: The viewpoint of a student journalist one school district removed from LAUSD  ….though not one 4LAKids necessarily agrees with.

23 August 2012 : 3:35 AM  ::  A June court ruling that made it mandatory for the Los Angeles Unified School District to include test scores in teacher evaluations has dredged up an old argument between the teachers’ union and the school districts. Since the Stull Act, a California bill, was passed in the1970s, there has been constant debate as to whether standardized test scores reflect a teacher’s performance. Despite the apparent disapproval by teachers and the union, improvements in student test scores should be considered when completing teacher evaluations.

In response to the court ruling, the teachers union has brought to attention a long-dormant bill, Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), that, if passed, would require all changes to the teacher evaluation system to be collectively bargained. AB 5 would essentially remove the consideration of test scores from the process and significantly reduce the power LAUSD has in making changes to the already established teacher evaluation system.

Test scores don’t have to be the only means of evaluation, nor do they even have to be the most dominant factor, but they must be at least considered. Other important factors exist as well, such as measuring teaching strategies and taking student surveys, but test scores remain the only method of evaluation that is completely objective.

A teacher could be at school from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, ready to give his or her students extra assistance and seemingly following the role of a responsible and dedicated educator. But if half of said teacher’s students are failing their standardized tests, dedication is no longer enough, as the teacher is simply not doing his or her job.

The union fears that teachers will be punished for the relatively lower scores of ESL or ELD students, as well as students who simply don’t try. However, school districts are not asking for test scores to be the only method of evaluation; they would only be used in conjunction with other factors, and individual scores would not have an impact. The context of the situation, including the location of the school, would be taken into consideration, reducing the chance of any teacher being evaluated under unfair circumstances.

Although the AB 5 bill would provide some increased stability to the evaluation system, it leaves too little decision-making power to the school district and gives too much to the teachers’ union.

A labor union is defined as “an organization of workers formed for the purpose of advancing its members’ interests in respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions.” The goal of the teacher’s union is to keep their members properly employed, seemingly without regard to how well they are performing. School districts, however, have their students’ education as there foremost priority. AB 5 should not be passed, as test scores should remain a factor in teacher evaluations, and power to make decisions that directly effect student education should be kept with the school districts themselves.

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