Saturday, September 29, 2012

TALKS CONTINUE ON TEACHER EVALUATIONS: UTLA remains opposed to tying evaluations to individual AGT/VAM ratings.


From The September issue of United Teacher |

21 September 2012 :: UTLA is in court-ordered negotiations with LAUSD officials over changes to the teacher evaluation system, but no agreement has been reached. The union continues to push back against LAUSD’s proposal to link a percentage of a teacher’s evaluation to his or her individual Academic Growth Over Time score. AGT is LAUSD’s version of VAM, or value-added model, which research studies show to be an inaccurate and unstable measure of teacher effectiveness.

“UTLA will continue to reject any system that would impose a quickand- dirty number on an individual that serves no purpose other than to discipline or fire them,” UTLA President Warren Fletcher says. “It’s attractive to think that the complex work of teaching can be distilled down to one simplistic number, but individual AGT/VAM has no true meaning and it can’t be used to improve instruction, which must be the goal of any evaluation system.” Impact of judge’s ruling: Because UTLA has stood firm in contract negotiations on tying teachers’ evaluations to their AGT/VAM scores, earlier this year the Broad Foundation and other groups attempted an end-run around the union by trying to get a judge to order implementation of LAUSD’s AGT/VAM evaluation system immediately.

The judge refused to do that, instead ruling that the District must negotiate any changes in the evaluation system with UTLA. He did, however, order that in any system that UTLA and the District eventually do negotiate, there must be a “nexus” between teacher evaluations and “student achievement” for it to be legal.

UTLA is committed to following state law and complying with the judge’s ruling, but the judge made it clear that the nexus does not have to be an individual AGT/VAM rating and that the District and UTLA must jointly develop what the final product looks like.

Prominent new report supports UTLA’s position: UTLA’s stance has been bolstered by a new report from the Task Force for Educator Excellence that rejects the use of individual AGT/VAM for teacher evaluations. The task force, chaired by Long Beach Unified Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser and Stanford University education professor Linda Darling-Hammond, found that such efforts produce results that “are very unreliable and often inaccurate at the individual teacher level.” The report was commissioned by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and State Superintendent Tom Torlakson.

UTLA studying AALA agreement: The LAUSD administrators’ union, AALA, reached a one-year agreement with LAUSD last week for a new evaluation program for administrators that would incorporate schoolwide AGT scores. UTLA is studying the AALA agreement and has reached out to education experts, such as Darling-Hammond, for feedback on schoolwide AGT systems.

Unlike individual AGT/VAM, which has been discredited by a wide collection of research from the scientific and academic community, there is no similar body of research—pro or con—on schoolwide AGT/VAM.

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