June 13, 2012

Los Angeles classroom teachers propose recommendations for a multi-measured evaluation system

Educators 4 Excellence Proposal Calls for Unique Solution to Use of Student Growth Data in Annual Reviews  

Teachers Urge District and Union to Break Stalemate on Evaluations to Empower Educators, Improve Student Achievement

For Immediate Release


June 13, 2012 (Los Angeles)—A day after a judge ruled the Los Angeles Unified School District must start incorporating student growth data into annual teacher evaluations, a group of Los Angeles classroom educators are proposing a unique framework for teacher evaluation that would include a mix of State and new, locally developed assessments as part of a multi-measured evaluation system. The 13-teacher policy team, members of a teacher-led education policy organization called Educators 4 Excellence (E4E-LA), spent the past several months researching the most effective way to improve the feedback and support teachers receive to improve their performance in the classroom. The results of their effort, “Breaking the Stalemate: LA Teachers Take on Teacher Evaluation,” would create a flexible evaluation system that bases 50% of a teacher’s annual review on multiple classroom observations by administrators and peers and 40% based on multiple measures of student growth. These multiple measures would include both state-approved tests and local district-approved assessments.

While negotiations between the union and district have stalled over the issue of how much weight to give student test scores, E4E-LA members found that teachers would support incorporating student growth data, but worry about focusing myopically on one high-stakes test. In a unique proposal that builds on the Local School Choice model embraced by UTLA and LAUSD, E4E-LA members recommend a rational middle ground: 20% of student growth data results based on state-approved tests and 20% from Local School Choice Assessments that schools would select or develop and the district would approve. The solution would enable schools to measure progress in subject areas that are not currently tested.

“I have yet to meet a teacher who doesn’t consider her job first and foremost to help students grow academically,” said Ama Nyamekye, Executive Director of E4E-LA. “The question is how do we measure the complexity of student academic growth. This policy team of teachers found a balanced path forward that cuts through the polarizing testing debate. The team is proposing multiple measures to evaluate student and teacher achievement.”

E4E-LA members hope that by showing policy makers how strongly teachers support evaluation, they can help jumpstart negotiations between LAUSD and UTLA. Under their proposal, a teacher’s annual review would be broken down in the following way:

Quality Planning, Instruction and Reflection (50%)

  • Administrator Observations
  • Informative peer Observations
  • Mini Portfolios

The E4E-LA Policy Team recommends that 50% of a teacher’s evaluation be based on observations by multiple observers, including administrators and peers. “Student growth data tells us if students are growing toward meeting state standards, but observations of practice tell us how and why students are growing,” explained Michael Beiersdorf, LAUSD teacher and E4E Member.  Under E4E’s proposal, teachers would receive up to four observations per year—two by an administrator and up to two informal observations by their peers. The observations would follow a pre-designed, rigorous rubric that identifies and captures measures of effective teaching.

Student Achievement Data (40%)

  • State Assessments (20%)
  • Locally developed assessments (20%)

By California State law, teacher evaluations must include student achievement data. E4E-LA recommends a multi-measured approach to student and teacher achievement by basing 20% of evaluation on state-based student growth assessments and an additional 20% on locally determined and district-approved assessments.

Contribution to School Community (10%)

  • Mini-Portfolios (5%)
  • Student Surveys (5%)

Finally, E4E-LA recommends that a teacher’s contribution to the school community count for 10 percent of the final evaluation, with that being split equally between stakeholder feedback and self-assessment tools. Teachers will develop evidence-based portfolios to show the contribution they’re making, including participation in professional development activities and communications with families. In addition, the policy team recommends using student surveys to assess classroom and school environments. A recent study by the Measures of Effective Teaching Project found a strong correlation between student survey results and student progress.

“We have taken on the complexity and controversy of this issue and produced a new way forward for teacher evaluation, one that unites ideas from our union and our district and considers input from our peers, community members and most important - our students,” said April Bain, a math teacher at Downtown Magnets High School. “Our goal is to start a conversation about solutions that create pathways for collaboration and consensus.”

E4E-LA recommends the first year the evaluation system is in place be a no-stakes pilot year to give teachers and administrators time to familiarize themselves with the new goals and expectations. Additionally, the evaluation should be audited every few years to assess its effectiveness and enable the district to make appropriate adjustments. The E4E-LA policy team was comprised of 13 current educators who spent close to three months surveying teachers, researching other evaluation systems, talking with stakeholders and collaborating on their recommendations. In New York, where E4E members initiated a similar dialogue around evaluations, the organization’s recommendations were recently incorporated into a statewide evaluation system approved by the Governor and New York State legislature.

To view the full report, click here.

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For far too long, education policy has been created without a critical voice at the table – the voice of classroom teachers. Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization, is changing this dynamic by placing the voices of teachers at the forefront of the conversations that shape our classrooms and careers. With a quickly growing national network of over3,500 educators united by the E4E Declaration of Teachers’ Principles and Beliefs, E4E teachers can learn about education policy and research, network at E4E’s event series with like-minded colleagues and important education policymakers, and take action by advocating for teacher-created policy recommendations that lift student achievement and the teaching profession.  For more information, please visit www.educators4excellence.org.

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