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Teacher Evaluation Overhauled in Los Angeles Pact

michelle king-500px.jpg

An agreement forged by the Los Angeles school board and the local teachers' union gives teachers more leeway over evaluation, by reducing the frequency of the review for veterans and providing flexibility in the use test scores for judging teachers.

The agreement isn't a total overhaul of the city teacher contract—that's not due for a few years yet—it's instead intended as limited contract "reopener." The district's board approved the overhaul at its meeting June 14, and 97 percent of voting educators signed off on it, according to United Teachers Los Angeles.

The new language can be found in this board document (scroll to page 10).

Most notably, the new system reduces the number of ratings categories from four to three. The "exceeds expectations" category is now gone. That may seem like not a big deal, but as Howard Blume of the Los Angeles Times points out, this means that the city will have a much more difficult time using evaluations to establish "master" teacher positions, career ladders, or performance-based pay.  

The new pact also slims from 15 to seven the number of performance objectives each teacher must meet and allows teachers to file grievances if they're placed in the lowest overall evaluation category.

Teachers with more than 10 years' experience won't have to be evaluated every two years, as was previously the case; now they'll be evaluated as infrequently as every five years. And the contract now requires administrators to notify teachers each year that they'll be evaluated. 

Test scores on hold

State law requires "pupil progress" to be part of each district's teacher-evaluation system, but the new Los Angeles pact doesn't specify how that requirement needs to be met. It says only that the standards for measuring progress and methods of assessing whether they're met must be determined by teacher and evaluator.

Former L.A. Superintendent John Deasy had pushed for test scores to count for 30 percent of each teacher's review, and was blocked by UTLA in doing so.

The agreement specifies that the evaluation system is meant to "encourage a career long growth of educator development and support," but some of those supports are optional. For example, there's a provision tucked in saying that it's voluntary, not mandatory, for teachers to complete the written "reflection" elements of each evaluation cycle.

The agreement also establishes some new class-size limits and requires a new full-time teacher at each high school to teach electives.

Photo: Michelle King, Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent, shortly after being named to the position. —AP-File

For more on teacher evaluation in Los Angeles:

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