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Teachers comment on their value-added evaluations

Some of the 6,000 L.A. Unified teachers whose rankings were made public by The Times air their thoughts on value-added ratings.

September 01, 2010

Here are just a few reasons why: For one thing, standardized tests cover only two subjects — mathematics and English language arts. Second, the value-added method totally ignores the number of students in a given teacher's classroom. Of course, a teacher with 35 students will have a much more difficult time increasing student test scores than a teacher with only 20 students. The value-added method also does not recognize that many teachers "team teach" with one or more other teachers in the same grade level. Teacher A might teach language arts to all of the students in a grade level, while Teacher B might teach math. Using the value-added method, Teacher A's students' standardized math test scores would not reflect his or her teaching effectiveness, but instead, Teacher B's. Also, if there is even one highly disruptive student in a given classroom, it can affect every student's ability to learn and, thus, his or her standardized test scores.

Do I feel that the value-added method of assessing teacher effectiveness is totally useless? Of course not. However, there are a great many other factors on which to judge teacher effectiveness. If The Times publishes these value-added teacher ratings, parents and the public will unfairly judge many great teachers as "ineffective."

Jennifer Lynn Samelson, Cowan Avenue Elementary

I have so much to say, I am having trouble saying anything. Now that's a first.

Shalonda Elaine Proctor, Crescent Heights Elementary

I am a much better teacher today than I was 20 years ago. I am fortunate I had a chance to grow and develop as an educator before The Times published a website with a rating of my performance. I do think we need to maintain high standards for educators. I applaud any effort to improve our educational system. I believe we need a fair and expedient process for terminating teachers who are clearly ineffective. Since the basis of the added-value ratings is test scores, you should provide the public with more information about the test and the state standards.

Justin Albert Ezzi, Park Western Place Elementary

Yes, teachers should be held accountable for children's education, but more importantly (and you probably won't print this because it's politically incorrect,) PARENTS need to also be held accountable! I'd love to see a "value-added measure of performance" for parents.

Gavino Santiago Bisarra, Madison Elementary

I am a veteran of the Persian Gulf War and currently an Army Reservist. I mention this because I have been a teacher, employed by the LAUSD since 2001, but I have only spent seven years in the classroom due to military mobilizations. I started as a first-grade teacher until my first mobilization in 2003. In 2005, I returned to the classroom when my mobilization ended as a fourth-grade teacher. Just as I was gaining momentum, I was mobilized again. So my teaching career has been impacted by my military service, but there is no room for that data in your statistics.

I will ultimately use this experience to better myself as a teacher, but I feel your publication has crossed the line by naming individuals in this manner. I suppose my naivete has gotten me again for I expected more from The Times than this sensationalized piece constructed obviously to titillate. Ironically, I have used your paper in my classroom by incorporating it into my social studies and writing curriculum. I will rethink this practice.

Cynthia Michell Cramer, Vintage Math/Science/Technology Magnet

LAUSD's policy in regards to letting go of teachers has been based only on seniority. Maybe now they will look at this data and change their ways!

Jessica Olivia Stewart, Hillcrest Drive Elementary

I appreciate this data. My question now is given all the issues that my students come to school with, how do I become a teacher that is most effective? I think that it is a good idea that The Times is looking at this data, but what about the other data? And now that we have this data, what do we do with it? I understand how many think The Times is targeting teachers. I ask The Times, help us teachers and the district become better.

Ashley Collett Tanger, Tulsa Street Elementary

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