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Teacher Evaluations in Los Angeles Headed to the Courts?

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A group of Los Angeles parents are threatening to sue the school district unless it begins to conduct teacher evaluations that comply with state law.

In a letter sent from an attorney to the district (hat tip to Eduwonk), the parents argue that the district has effectively avoided its obligations to evaluate teachers under the Stull Act, which set the state's current teacher evaluation parameters.

They cite a portion of the law requiring performance reviews to consider student progress against academic standards, as measured by criterion-based tests where applicable, noting that the district—like others in California—does not do so. And they demand that the district begin doing so, or face a lawsuit.

The letter comes at a particularly sensitive time for labor-management relations. The district and United Teachers Los Angeles are scheduled to negotiate a new contract. UTLA, however, has been adamantly opposed to the use of test-score data in teacher evaluations (and even sued, unsuccessfully, to end a pilot program doing so).

Superintendent John Deasy has said he won't approve a contract that doesn't integrate student achievement.

Howard Blume at The Los Angeles Times has the goods for you. He notes that the letter has the backing of a group called EdVoice, which counts philanthropist Eli Broad as a board member.

The big question, one Blume also raises in his story, is what this portends for education reform in general. Will we see an increasing trend of various groups and parties turning to the judicial system to force changes to education policy, especially where teacher quality is concerned?

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