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Letters: How to rate teachers

September 15, 2012
  • L.A. Unified teacher Kyle Hunsberger is participating in the district's new teacher evaluation program.
L.A. Unified teacher Kyle Hunsberger is participating in the district's… (Los Angeles Times )

Re "Tests and teacher evaluations," Editorial, Sept. 11

Iam all in favor of including objective test results in teacher evaluations, but in the spirit of the times, where are the details? The details may be causing the delays in implementation.

Should students who do not study be included in a teacher's evaluation? If a school's environment is not as conducive to learning as other schools', what data benchmarks are in place to isolate teacher effectiveness from numerous extraneous factors? Statisticians say the teacher effectiveness data formulas have been tweaked to account for these things, but again — what are the details?

We will always need data from standardized testing to evaluate any reforms in education.

Because many school administrations already determine the effectiveness of their faculty members based on nondata means, teachers may come to find that using data to evaluate them is fairer and potentially more rewarding. Implementation of an evaluation system based partly on test scores should not be delayed once the details are deemed fair.

Michael F. Katzman

Bell Canyon

The writer is a former data analyst for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Evaluating teachers and students is a process, and tests are simply diagnostic tools on which improvement plans can be based. The data they afford should not be viewed as static snapshots of the failures or successes of teachers or students. Rather, they should be used as indicators of weakness for which remediation plans must be developed.

It is silly to expect any school to be like Lake Wobegon, where all the kids are above average. Members of the public must come to grips with setting goals for schools: Do they desire students who are great test takers, or students who are great thinkers?

Bob Bruesch


The writer is a member of the Garvey School District Board of Education.

Standardized tests will only be a fair evaluation of teachers' effectiveness if the students have something at stake as well. Let the students' grades reflect their test scores.

Some students don't even pretend to try, making a mockery of the test and making it a ridiculous yardstick with which to measure teachers or their schools.

Sandra Smith

Yorba Linda

Of all the benefits of "value-added" assessment, perhaps the most important is the ability of school districts to take the data into account when assigning teachers and students to classrooms.

Studies have shown that students subjected to the worst-performing teachers in three consecutive years are likely to suffer long-term educational damage. As such, use of this data for class assignment purposes is very much a civil rights issue, independent of its role in teacher evaluation, compensation or retention.

Peter Alfvin

Manhattan Beach


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