The Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers union have reached what is being called a “historic” tentative agreement to incorporate student test scores into teacher evaluations for the first time ever, joining Chicago and a growing number of other cities.
KPCC reports that under the agreement, teachers’ final evaluations will include student results on the California Standards Test from the previous year or years, as well as the Academic Growth over Time measure. They will also be judged on students' California High School Exit Exam scores, graduation and dropout rates, and classroom observations, among others.
Individual teacher Academic Growth over Time scores — which rely on a formula that estimates how much a teacher helps a student achieve while controlling for factors like income and race — will not be used in the final evaluation. The measure will instead only be used for feedback and to improve instruction.
Test scores will count for less than 50 percent of a teacher’s rating, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The new evaluation system must still be approved by the school board and members of United Teachers Los Angeles before it can go into effect. According to KPCC, union leaders had resisted using test scores to gauge teacher effectiveness, claiming they were not always an adequate reflection of classroom learning. However, L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy said those concerns have been mitigated by the addition of broader schoolwide measures.
The resolution, announced Friday, comes only days before the Dec. 4 court-ordered deadline imposed by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant, who ruled earlier this year that state law requires the district to use test scores in teacher evaluations, the L.A. Times reports. The union called the agreement a “limited” response to the deadline, noting that negotiations for evaluations in future academic years will continue.
L.A. Unified represents the second-largest district in the country, serving more than 640,000 students in 900 schools and 187 charter schools.
At least 30 states have started applying student performance to teacher evaluations in keeping with President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative, The Wall Street Journal reports.