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LAUSD won't release teacher names with 'value-added' scores

Giving names to the Los Angeles Times could cause jealousy among instructors, lead to poor school morale and result in parents demanding teachers with high ratings, the district says.

November 19, 2011|By Jason Song, Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Unified School District has declined to release to The Times the names of teachers and their scores indicating their effectiveness in raising student performance.

The nation's second-largest school district calculated confidential "academic growth over time" ratings for about 12,000 math and English teachers last year. This fall, the district issued new ones to about 14,000 instructors that can also be viewed by their principals. The scores are based on an analysis of a student's performance on several years of standardized tests and estimate a teacher's role in raising or lowering student achievement.

School districts throughout the country have been adopting similar approaches, often known as value-added ratings, as one measure of teacher effectiveness.

L.A. Unified began calculating scores for teachers after The Times published a series of articles last summer based on the newspaper's value-added analysis. The newspaper calculated those scores from data provided by the district under a public records request.

The newspaper published a database with the names, work locations and value-added scores for nearly 6,000 teachers. The Times later updated the database to include nearly 11,500 teachers.

The newspaper filed a California Public Records Act request for the district's academic growth scores linked to individual teachers. L.A. Unified agreed to release the scores — but without teachers' names.

"The potential harm to privacy interests from disclosure outweighs the public interest in disclosure," said David Holmquist, the district's general counsel, in a letter to The Times.

L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy wants to include the ratings as one component in teachers' confidential evaluations.

The district and the teachers union are in negotiations. But United Teachers Los Angeles has steadfastly opposed using test scores to rate teachers effectiveness.

Holmquist cited several reasons why the district declined to release all the information The Times requested, saying it could cause jealousy among teachers and lead to poor school morale. He said that the public release could harm teachers' ability to get future jobs and that parents could demand instructors with high ratings, leading to unbalanced classrooms. Holmquist also said the release could make it more difficult to fire teachers.

When The Times published its databases, district officials said they were not aware of large numbers of parents asking to switch their children to teachers with higher value-added scores. District officials also are under no obligation to grant parents' requests.

Kelli Sager, an attorney representing The Times, said: "At this point, we have not received any records from LAUSD, so it is unclear what they are saying they will provide. We have ample authority that supports The Times' request for documents, and if LAUSD refuses to provide them, we will have no choice but to seek a court order requiring them to do so."

jason.song@latimes.com

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