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LAUSD teachers ratify deal on performance evaluation

UTLA President Warren Fletcher
Grant Slater/KPCC
UTLA President Warren Fletcher

Los Angeles Unified School District teachers have approved a comprehensive evaluation system that would include test data, plus other measurements of student achievement, to determine their effectiveness in the classroom.

Of the nearly 17,000 who voted, 66 percent cast "yes'' ballots in favor of the agreement,which calls for teacher evaluations to be based on raw data from the California Standards Test along with district assessments, high school exit exams, attendance, graduation rates, suspensions and course completion.

The final tally was 11,185 in favor with 5,707 voting against the plan, according to results released Saturday.

Officials with United Teachers of Los Angeles, the union that represents the district's teachers, consider the vote a victory over earlier proposals and some nationwide efforts calling for heavier reliance on so-called value-added test scores.

"I'm gratified our members ratified the agreement that clearly states individual AGT (Academic Growth Over Time) scores will not be used as part of a teacher's final evaluation,'' UTLA President Warren Fletcher said in a statement. "We worked hard at the bargaining table to craft a system that intelligently uses student data in the evaluation of teachers.''

Los Angeles Schools Superintendent John Deasy also expressed relief the evaluation issue had been resolved.

"It's a sign that members really want us to begin moving forward with a more improved way around evaluations,'' Deasy told the Los Angeles Times.

The agreement was the result of court-ordered bargaining as part of a lawsuit known as Doe vs Deasy. If teachers had rejected the agreement, the judge could have mandated value-added scores be used to evaluate teachers, the statement said.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant had ruled earlierthat the Los Angeles district was violating state law by not using test scores as a factor in teacher evaluations.

National education advocate Diane Ravitch, a former assistant secretary of education, hailed the agreement in a statement released by UTLA.

The agreement "assures that test scores will not be over used, will not be assigned an arbitrary and inappropriate weight, will not be the sole or primary determinant of a teacher's evaluation, '' said Ravitch.