Monday, March 28, 2011


from LA Times Readers' Representative Journal |

"A conversation on newsroom ethics and standards"

March 18, 2011 | 12:42 pm - Editor Russ Stanton announced the following honors from the Scripps Howard National Journalism Awards:

Jason Felch, Jason Song, Doug Smith, Sandra Poindexter and Ken Schwencke on Friday were named winners of the public service award in the 57th annual Scripps Howard National Journalism Awards program for their groundbreaking series, "Grading The Teachers."

The judges said the project "involved both sophisticated data analysis and good old-fashioned reporting. A team of Times reporters looked at one of the most vexing questions in education today: how to identify effective and less-than-effective teachers. The Times conducted a "value added" analysis of teacher performance based on how students progressed year to year. It also sent reporters into more than 50 classrooms while other reporters spoke to teachers, administrators and parents. The Times then made all the data public and within hours, more than 200,000 Los Angeles residents logged on to see how their children's teachers rate. The series was a tremendous public service that shined a light on an important issue."

2cents Dr. Robert D. Skeels who blogs as *rdsathene at the Solidaridad blog quips "Have to love that Jason Song still defends his paper's totally discredited VAM nonsense."

smf: Nobody disputes that Value-added Analysis/Value-added Modeling (VAM) of classroom teachers is a hot button issue - and as such is newsworthy. However Grading the Teachers didn’t report the news nor did it analyze the news - it created the news - "Grading the Teachers" was The Story.

Subsequent critiques of the story:  the reporting, the data analysis and the conclusions discredited the wrenched mess - see: National Education Policy Center report: Due Diligence and the Evaluation of Teachers

"The research on which the Los Angeles Times relied for its August 2010 teacher effectiveness reporting was demonstrably inadequate to support the published rankings. Using the same L.A. Unified School District data and the same methods as the Times, this study probes deeper and finds the earlier research to have serious weaknesses."

Yet The Times - employing the reporters to cover themselves - spun the discrediting report and misreported the findings: Separate Study Confirms Many Los Angeles Times Findings On Teacher Effectiveness

See the point-by-point annotated refutation of the ' Separate Story..." report here: Due Diligence and The Evaluation Of Teachers: Fact Sheet Concerning L.A. Times Article Of February 7, 2011

Against the backdrop of this Rigoberto Ruelas Jr., a fifth-grade teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, evaluated poorly in The Times report, committed suicide.

Yet the story won an award for "good old fashioned reporting" and was a was "a tremendous public service"?

And Times trumpets this success in "A conversation on newsroom ethics and standards"?

What is the meaning of "ethics" and "standards"? Does the adjective "Orwellian" go far enough?

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