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October 31, 2012
Re "Do test scores depict whole teacher?," Oct. 29 Kudos to Kyle Hunsberger, a teacher who is working to refine the approach to measuring teacher performance in a way that is fair to teachers and students. When The Times initially introduced the notion of measuring teacher performance, United Teachers Los Angeles effectively ceded its leadership position when it responded by advising its members to cease reading the paper. The notion that teacher performance cannot be measured is absurd.
March 9, 2014 | By Christopher Chabris and Jonathan Wai
Laszlo Bock, the head of human resources at Google, made quite a splash with his announcement last year that the technology firm has changed the way it hires people. Gone are the brainteaser-style interview questions that so many candidates abhorred. But also gone, it would seem, is any concern with discovering how smart applicants really are. "GPAs are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless.... We found that they don't predict anything," Bock told the New York Times.
August 11, 2013
Re "State sees a surprise drop in test scores," Aug. 9 John Rogers, a professor in UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, is right: There shouldn't be too much concern about tiny changes in standardized test scores. If we are interested in real gains, let's attack the real problem: poverty. Nearly one-quarter of children in the U.S. live in poverty, which means inadequate diet, lack of healthcare and little or no access to books. The best teaching in the world is of little help when students are hungry, ill and have nothing to read.
December 25, 2013 | By Stephen Ceasar
Passing periods at Belmont High School used to mean pushing your way through a hall teeming with students. Now, it is a leisurely stroll. The storied campus perched on top of a hill on the fringe of downtown was once the largest high school in the state and one of the biggest in the country. It was also the most crowded. Built to hold 2,500 at most, it peaked at 5,500 students. But today, it could use a few more. Over the last decade, enrollment has plummeted with the construction of nearby schools by the Los Angeles Unified School District.
November 17, 2011
Smaller schools? More charters? Those are yesterday's headlines in the world of school reform. The hot-button topic now is the inclusion of student test scores in teacher evaluations. Yet as school administrators and the teachers union battle it out in current contract negotiations in Los Angeles, who would have guessed that state law addressed this issue long ago? A lawsuit filed by a group of parents, aided by the reform group EdVoice, claims that the Los Angeles Unified School District must include standardized test scores or some other measure of student progress to comply with the 40-year-old Stull Act. Though filed only against the district, the suit has statewide implications.
August 19, 2012
Re "Test scores should count too," Editorial, and "Teacher evaluation plan disputed," Aug. 16 In discussions of using student test scores as part of teacher evaluations, the student's willingness to perform is seldom mentioned. High school students often don't try to do their best on standardized tests. Last year one of my students marked "C" all the way down his answer sheet. When I told him to make an honest attempt, he then marked "A" all the way down the page. His scores would have indicated that the teachers had not done their job. Unfortunately, there are many California students who don't take the testing seriously because the scores don't affect their letter grades.
April 21, 2013 | By Kelly Corrigan
A McKinley Elementary teacher has been placed on administrative leave after a third-grade student reported that the teacher helped a class answer questions on state standardized tests this week. Burbank Unified Supt. Jan Britz, who made the announcement during Thursday's school board meeting, added that state officials are investigating the case. Still uncertain of the alleged infraction's full consequences, Britz said state officials could mark the test scores as invalid and potentially strip McKinley of its Academic Performance Index, or API, score, later this year.
April 11, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
A recent op-ed article in the Washington Post warned against overusing students' standardized test scores in evaluating how well teachers are doing their jobs. There would be no surprise about that - if it had been penned by the leader of a teachers union. But it was written by Bill Gates, arguably the most influential voice over the last few years in pushing for the use of test scores to rate teachers. Gates' warning was based on a study released in January that his foundation funded.
January 5, 1998
Isn't it ironic that every recent suggestion for improving minority test scores has been either to change or eliminate the test? What about working with the children to figure out what it will take to raise the test scores? JEREMIAH JOHNSON Oak View
September 11, 2012
Los Angeles schools must soon include state test scores in evaluations of teacher performance. It's been a long battle to get to this point, and the whole effort was nearly upended by problematic legislation that, fortunately, never made it to the governor's desk. But that hasn't ended the debate. On Tuesday, the L.A. Unified school board is scheduled to consider a new evaluation policy that in one way would enhance the way teacher performance is measured and in another would set it back.
December 22, 2013 | By Howard Blume
L.A. Unified is improving faster - in some categories much faster - than most other large, urban school systems, according to the latest results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which tests a sample of students nationwide. And while the district's overall scores remained relatively low, its progress elicited praise from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Los Angeles is among the school systems that are "examples for the rest of the country of what can happen when schools embrace innovative reforms," Duncan said.
December 20, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Los Angeles schools showed the second-highest improvement in the nation on a test of urban school districts that is widely considered one of the most reliable measurements of student skills. This is cause for applause but also some frustration, because even the experts don't know which factors are driving the improvement. The long-term success of students here and across the country depends on finding out. The Trial Urban District Assessment uses the biannual test that's familiarly called the nation's report card, or more formally the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
December 3, 2013 | By Shan Li
Fifteen-year-old students in the U.S. lag behind many countries around the world when it comes to reading, science and math, according to test results released Tuesday. The scores, which place the U.S. in the middle of the global pack, showed little change from American students who have taken the test over the past decade. At the top of the rankings are Asian countries including South Korea, Japan and Singapore. The Chinese city of Shanghai scored the highest average scores in each subject matter.
November 9, 2013
Re "How to grade a teacher," Editorial, Nov. 7 Thank you for your balanced editorial on the use of test scores in evaluating schools and teachers. The "all or none" attitude of No Child Left Behind in using test scores to demonize struggling schools and teachers is counterproductive. Test data should always be used as a tool to diagnose problems of weak students and teachers and to provide a road map toward strengthening their areas of need. The evil of using test scores as a means of showing failure of teachers or students leads to the proliferation of the "teach to the test" attitude in schools.
October 29, 2013 | By Stephen Ceasar
Hundreds of parents, teachers and activists rallied Tuesday morning in support of L.A. schools chief John Deasy ahead of his meeting with the Board of Education to discuss his performance and his future with the district. Last week, just days before the scheduled performance review, Deasy told some top officials that he may step down, according to L.A. Unified School District insiders. Supporters lined up for hours before the closed-door meeting, which is to be conducted by the seven-member body that has become more willing to challenge his policy efforts and philosophy.
September 11, 2013 | By Howard Blume
The California Assembly on Wednesday easily approved an overhaul of the state's student testing system in which schools and parents would not receive test scores for at least a year. The vote of 51 to 22 was largely along party lines, with Democrats overwhelmingly in favor. The state Senate had  passed the bill Tuesday. The next stop for Assembly Bill 484 is the office of Gov. Jerry Brown, who has said he supports the legislation. The bill would immediately end state funding for pencil-and-paper standardized exams used since 1999.
September 13, 2012 | By Karin Klein
The Times' editorial board has supported making student test scores part of a teacher's performance evaluation -- within reason. But the Chicago teachers strike shows at least one reason why teachers unions have opposed such policies so vociferously. Part of what we ask of teachers is that they keep bringing those test scores higher; as a result, it's reasonable for their evaluations to include how well they've done that part of the job. But when the scores are closely linked to the pay raises teachers get -- or whether they even have a job -- school administrators are in untested waters, and I'm not sure they remembered to bring a life jacket with them.
September 10, 2013 | By Howard Blume
California lawmakers pushed ahead Tuesday with a new state testing plan despite a threat by the Obama administration to withhold federal education funds unless substantial changes were made. The state Senate approved the overhaul on a 25-7 vote, with Democrats overwhelmingly in support. AB 484 would end the paper-and-pencil testing system used since 1999. In its place would be computerized tests based on new Common Core learning goals approved by 45 states. With the new test entering a trial period, there would be no student or school scores released for 2014.
September 9, 2013 | By Howard Blume
The nation's top education official threatened Monday to withhold federal funds if California lawmakers approved pending legislation to revamp the state's standardized testing system. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued the warning as AB 484 awaits a full vote of the Assembly and state Senate. The proposed law would end the standardized exams used since 1999 and replace them next spring with a computerized system. The purpose is to advance new learning goals, called the Common Core standards, that have been adopted by 45 states.
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