Just days ahead of a court-ordered deadline, the Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers' union announced a tentative agreement Friday on a system that relies heavily on classroom observation to evaluate teachers' performance, but also incorporates students' performance on standardized tests.
"We've reached a historic agreement with UTLA (United Teachers Los Angeles) that will improve the way we undertake certificated evaluations and honors their core purpose: to improve the practices of teaching and to assure accountability in meeting standards of the teaching profession,'' LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said.
UTLA President Warren Fletcher said he was pleased the agreement "rejects the use of individual AGT (Academic Growth Over Time) scores as part of a teacher's final evaluation.''
"This is significant because these scores have been found to be an unreliable method of measuring a teacher's effectiveness,'' he said. "Initial planning conferences, which establish a teacher's performance objectives for the coming year, would include `multiple measures of student achievement,' including raw data from the state-mandated CST (California Standards Test).''
The tentative agreement, which still needs the approval of the LAUSD Board of Education and the membership of UTLA, was announced ahead of a scheduled Tuesday court hearing on a lawsuit over the district's teacher-evaluation system.
The lawsuit contends the district has not been complying with the Stull Act, a 1999 law requiring student progress to be incorporated into teachers' evaluations. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant set a Tuesday deadline for the district to come up with a viable system.
"This agreement strikes a balance that is much needed in the country right now in terms of using student measures of academic progress as both a vehicle to improve instruction, and to hold us accountable for the achievement of students in our schools,'' Deasy said.
According to the district, the biggest factor in teacher evaluations would be "a robust classroom observation process.'' But other factors, including a school's AGT scores, California High School Exit Exam passage rates, Academic Performance Index scores, attendance and suspension rates, would be used as "important but limited factors in an overall performance evaluation.''
The district noted that student achievement measures would not be the primary evaluation factor, but would be "significant.''
"This agreement, in the end, is designed to help how our teachers and other certificated staff meet the needs of our students so they can graduate college and career ready,'' Deasy said.
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