The LA Times used Freedom of Information requests to obtain student achievement data linked to teachers in LA unified. The students’ names were removed, but not the teachers. The paper then hired researchers at RAND to analyze the data and calculate the value-added of individual teachers. And then the paper published all of the results. WOW!
It’s no longer possible to hide the fact that there are some awful teachers who continue receiving paychecks and depriving kids of an education. School officials have had these data for years and never used them, never tried to identify who were the best and worst teachers, and never tried to remove bad teachers from the profession. It took a newspaper and a big FOI request.
Now the school district will be forced to do something about those chronically ineffective teachers. No one is suggesting that analyses of these test scores should be the sole criteria for identifying or removing ineffective teachers. But it is a start.
This is going to spread. As long as the data exist, there will be more and more pressure for school systems to actually use the information and develop systems for identifying and removing teachers who can’t teach.
It’s also worth emphasizing that this new reality is a huge accomplishment of No Child Left Behind. The accountability and choice provisions of NCLB could never work because school systems could never be asked to sanction themselves. But the one big thing that NCLB accomplished is getting every public school to measure student achievement in grades 3-8 and report results. NCLB made it so that these data exist so that the LA Times could FOI the results and push schools to act upon it. NCLB could never get schools to take real action, but the existence of the data could get others to force schools to act.
And what is the reaction of the teachers unions to all of this? They’ve called for a boycott of the LA Times. As usual, we see how much more they care about protecting incompetent teachers than protecting kids suffering from educational malpractice.