Teacher Evaluations Still a Work in Progress

teacher-evalTeacher evaluations for the 2012-13 school year were due about a month ago.

Even though they included a section for “student achievement,” it’s safe to say that particular section was a work in progress.

“There was literally just a few weeks to get it implemented, and we had to implement it according to the courts,” said LAUSD instructional director Brian Lucas. “We had to start something now, so we did.”

This year’s set of evaluations are the last of the old Stull evaluations. Next year, they’ll be replaced by a new system that Lucas is calling the Teacher Growth and Developments Cycles.

The new system offers a far more specific set of criteria for a principal to evaluate a teacher with during classroom observations.

“It’s very detailed and specific to what’s happening in the classroom,” said Lucas. “Before, observations could be  generic — for example, they could write, ‘good job.’ Now it’s detail based, fact based.”

Teachers will be evaluated under the new system starting in 2013-2014, but training for principals will start over the summer.

Results of the California Standardized Tests aren’t available yet, so the student achievement section on this year’s evaluations will rest on what sounds like a rather squishy metric — what Lucas calls a ‘data objective’ agreed to by the principal and the teacher. That’s almost sure to change by the end of next year.

“We need to fully flesh out what this is going to look like, what data points are going to be used,” said Lucas. “And the state testing is changing substantially for next year.”

Previous posts: Revamp Teacher Evaluation Plan, Says LA TimesUnion Tells Teachers How to Protest EvaluationsTeachers & Principals Question Deasy Teacher Evaluation Plan

District Makes Student Achievement 30% of Teacher Evaluation*

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy has issued guidelines to all principals regarding the new teacher evaluations, which will be implemented by the start of the 2013-14 school year.

But UTLA President Warren Fletcher says that the guidelines may violate the underlying agreement, which was ratified by UTLA on January 19th and approved by the School Board on Tuesday. Continue reading

Implementing the Teacher Evaluation Deal

UTLA President Warren Fletcher

Last week, classroom teachers voted overwhelmingly to approve a new system of evaluations, which include data from California Standardized Tests.

 “I’m gratified our members ratified the agreement that clearly states, individual AGT (Academic Growth Over Time) scores will not be used as part of a teacher’s final evaluation,” said UTLA chief Warren Fletcher in a statement. “

Sixty-six percent of UTLA’s rank and file members (11,185 teachers) voted yes, according to a UTLA press release (read full statement here).

The vote marks the end of a saga that began In November 2011, and the beginning of difficult phase in which the district must develop and implement the new plan. Superintendent John Deasy has a good deal of latitude in figuring out the specifics of the new evaluations. Of especial interest is just how much weight test scores will have.

Previous posts: Union Warns Against Rejecting Teacher Evaluation DealTeachers Set to Vote on EvaluationVoices Urge “No” Vote On EvaluationNext Steps to Finalize Teacher Deal (For more coverage, see: LA TimesDaily NewsKPCCEd Source)

UTLA’s Confusing Flip-Flop on Evaluations

UTLA President Warren Fletcher

While union president Warren Fletcher has claimed victory on a recent court-ordered tentative agreement on teacher evaluations, a closer look might leave rank-and-file teachers scratching their heads.

UTLA has consistently opposed any use of student test scores in teacher evaluations in the past. So it was unexpected when the union leadership signed off on using raw standardized test scores such as the California Standards Tests (CST) — a single test measure that UTLA has denounced for years.

Scott Witlin, an attorney who represented parents in the Doe v. Deasy lawsuit that compelled the district and union to reach the agreement, called UTLA’s acceptance of CST scores “ironic.”

“For years, the teachers union complained that individual test scores were insufficient because they didn’t account for other factors,” Witlin said.

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Next Steps to Finalize Teacher Deal

UTLA membership: what will they do?

On Friday, LAUSD and UTLA finally came to tentative agreement on a new way to evaluate teachers, just days before the court-imposed December 4 deadline in Doe v. Deasy.

The initial responses were generally positive, including from the plaintiffs. “Assuming that everyone behaves in good faith, I think we’ve achieved what we’ve set out to do,” says the attorney for the unnamed plaintiffs, Scot Witlin.

So what’s next for the agreement?  There’s quite a bit more that has to happen, including a couple of steps that could trip things up. Continue reading

Board Preview: Doe v. Deasy; Teacher Dismissals

The LAUSD Board will hold a special closed session on Tuesday, December 4 to confer with its legal counsel about the Doe v. Deasy case and to discuss labor negotiations:

Board Members Monica Garcia and Tamar Galatzan will also introduce a resolution calling on state legislators to change “the lengthy, expensive [teacher] dismissal process required by state law,” which is a response to the legislature’s failure to pass SB 1530.

Breaking News: Test Scores to Be Used in Teacher Evaluations

Supt. John Deasy

A tentative but potentially historic agreement was reached late Friday, November 30 between LAUSD and UTLA that will define how teachers are evaluated in the second largest school district in country. The agreement includes the use of individual student test scores as a part of the review process – a measurement that has been championed by Superintendent John Deasy and consistently opposed by the teachers union.

According to a press release issued by LAUSD, “Measures of student achievement are not the primary or controlling factor, but they are significant, and beginning immediately, will be incorporated.” The court-ordered negotiation, which started in July, recently gained urgency as it faced the December 4 deadline.

To read LAUSD’s full press release, click here.

Update: LAUSD’s big concession to UTLA is one that would please board member Steve Zimmer – the district will not use individual Academic Growth of Time scores in teacher evaluations; it will use only school-wide AGT scores.

“We are pleased to announce the agreement rejects the use of individual AGT (Academic Growth Over Time) scores as part of a teacher’s final evaluation,” said UTLA President Warren Fletcher in a press release. “This is significant because these scores have been found to be an unreliable method of measuring a teacher’s effectiveness.” (Read the full press release here.)

Evaluations will, however, use raw scores from students’ California Standards Tests (CST), arguably as tough a measure. It’s unclear how much weight the CSTs will carry in the mix, although the LA Times is reporting that it will be less than 50%. The evaluations will use a panoply of other metrics, including ‘robust’ classroom observation, A-G course enrollment, graduation rates, dropout rates, Advanced Placement course enrollment, and California High School Exit Exam passage rates.

The Daily News has posted an outline of the agreement.

Previous posts: Teacher Talks: What Happens If They Can’t Agree?, Mediator Named in Deadlock Over Teacher Evaluations, Conflicting Reports On Evaluation Negotiations

Deasy Predicts Evaluation Deal

Superintendent John Deasy said this morning that he expects a tentative agreement with UTLA over a new system of teacher evaluations, as mandated by the court in Doe v. Deasy, at some point in the next four days — just before the deadline set by the judge.

“I’m not a betting or predictive kind of guy, but I would, if I had to be forced to do that, I would see that taking place in the next four days – before it’s necessary,” Deasy told reporters at a press conference this morning.

“I have a pen in my pocket at all times to sign a tentative agreement with UTLA that would comply with the Stull Act and use measures of student achievement as a factor in evaluating teachers,” said Deasy. “I don’t have that at the moment and am late to that meeting.”

No word yet on what the elements of the deal will be, how the plaintiffs will respond, or whether UTLA is feeling equally optimistic.

Previous posts: Teacher Talks: What Happens If They Can’t Agree?Top District Lawyer Talks Lawsuits, Unilateral Action,

Teacher Talks: What Happens If They Can’t Agree?

The deadline set by Judge Chalfant for LAUSD and UTLA to agree on a teacher evaluation system that satisfies the requirements of the Stull Act is December 4 — less than a week away.

Neither side is saying how the negotiations are going – other than, well, “they’re going.” That sounds good, but the district and the union haven’t been getting along lately on things like the Race to the Top application, and LAUSD recently called for mediation because there had been an impasse in negotiations.

So what happens if the negotiations bog down and the sides can’t come to an agreement within the judge’s timeline? We asked a couple of experts to weigh in and they came up with three possible scenarios: a fine or other finding against the district, permission to implement a new plan unilaterally without the union’s approval, or the use of some sort of outside third party to handle things.

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Top District Lawyer Talks Lawsuits, Unilateral Action

David Holmquist

Not many people would recognize David Holmquist, general counsel for the LA Unified School District (pictured below). But Holmquist serves as an important role, overseeing all labor negotiations, and representing the district in over 1,000 lawsuits  – including attempts by LAUSD to recover overpayment from 600 employees and dismiss more than 120 teachers.

We spoke last Wednesday in his office on the 24th floor of LAUSD headquarters about what actions LAUSD is preparing to take unilaterally if the teacher evaluation negotiations with UTLA remain unresolved, the recent LA Times lawsuit, his role in the Ramon Cortines sexual assault allegations, the ongoing legal fallout from the Miramonte scandal, and LAUSD’s version of the infamous New York City “rubber rooms” where teachers are housed while investigations against them are pending.

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Mediator Named in Deadlock Over Teacher Evaluations

Mediator Don Raska has been appointed to try to help resolve the teacher evaluation negotiations between LAUSD and the teachers union (UTLA), according to a UTLA newsletter.

The October 19th issue of the United Teacher states that, “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.”

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UTLA Calls Mediation Request “Premature”

Picking up on our story from yesterday afternoon (LAUSD & UTLA: Headed To Mediation), the Daily News‘ Barbara Jones has a story out today in which UTLA President Warren Fletcher is quoted calling LAUSD’s declaration of an impasse and call for mediation “premature.” (LAUSD says talks with UTLA on teacher evaluations are at impasse). However, Fletcher says that “If the state wants to appoint a mediator to help the process along, we welcome that involvement.”

LAUSD & UTLA: Headed To Mediation

LA School Report has learned that LAUSD has filed a “declaration of impasse” in their negotiations with UTLA over teacher evaluations, and as a result the negotiations have gone to mediation with the Public Employee Relations Board.

The “impasse” declaration was filed more than a couple of weeks ago, according to LAUSD Chief Labor and Employment Counsel Alex Molina, although he declined to provide a specific date or comment on how the process was going. “The mediator is not allowing parties to speak about mediation process,” said Molina.

According to an inside source who did not wish to be named, the move is “a leverage decision [on the part of LAUSD]. It makes UTLA look like foot-draggers.” However, Molina describes the move as perfectly normal: “The court had ordered that parties partake in such a process if necessary to reach agreement.”

Previous posts: Week-Long Disappearing Act for Zimmer ResolutionConcerns About Teacher TalksTeacher Evaluation Debate Deadline.

Concerns About Teacher Talks

Left to right: Scott Witlin, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Ed Voice’s Bill Lucia; Press conference after Doe v. Deasy decision

On Monday, representatives from LAUSD and UTLA met again to discuss teacher evaluations — the 15th session since July 11, when a judge ordered the two sides to develop a new system for evaluating teachers and principals that includes some measure of pupil progress.

Superintendent John Deasy told Teresa Watanabe of the LA Times, “I am anticipating a breakthrough with teachers, and I would say very soon.” (see: Slim chance for teachers strike in L.A., officials say)

But others aren’t so sure. UTLA president Warren Fletcher has repeatedly said that he opposes any use of student test scores in teacher evaluations. And it’s unclear how much progress has been made in the negotiations, from which the Doe v. Deasy plaintiffs have been excluded.

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Conflicting Reports On Evaluation Negotiations

As you may recall, Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ordered LAUSD, the teachers union (UTLA) and the administrators union (AALA) to provide a September 4 progress report on a negotiations over new way of evaluating teachers and administrators that includes some measure of pupil progress.

LAUSD Supt. John Deasy, via KPCC

So what’s the update? LAUSD has made a proposal, according to the Daily News’ Barbara Jones, who reports that the AALA is “hopeful progress will continue in negotiations.” (LAUSD proposes new teacher-evaluation system). EdVoice CEO Bill Lucia is also optimistic, and says that the district has met with union leaders 20 times over the last two months.

However, UTLA had no comment. Neither, for that matter, did the Superintendent. And KPCC’s Tami Abdollah spoke with plaintiff attorney Scott Witlin, who says he was “surprised by how few times the unions had met with the district.” (No agreement yet for LAUSD and its unions on teacher evals). Lucia and Witlin are on the same side of the lawsuit, so either they have different information, or one of them is using some sort of a negotiating tactic (or one of the news accounts is inaccurate).

Furious Debate Over “Pupil Progress”

Rumors are flying fast and furious about Assembly Bill 5, a proposed amendment to the Stull Act offered by San Fernando Valley Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes.

The latest word from EdSource is that AB 5 is being revised slightly to try and mollify opponents and also to help make the state eligible for a No Child Left Behind waiver (see: Fuentes agrees to compromises on AB 5: Are they enough?). If approved, the amended bill could go back to the State Senate education committee early next week. But it’s not clear that’s going to happen without further changes. Romero, EdVoice and other education reformers are still strongly opposed to the law — as is LAUSD’s John Deasy.

What is AB 5? Why do ed reform groups, not to mention Deasy, hate it so much? And what is Fuentes offering to change?

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