Today, Aug. 27, on Deadline L.A., I'll talk with Jason Felch and Jason Song. They are the L.A. Times reporters who authored the controversial series, Grading the Teachers. In that ongoing series of articles, they assert, in essence, that teachers can and should be evaluated based on the standardized test scores of their students, through a system called "value-added." Value-added looks at the past performance of individual students and then measures the amount of learning a teacher has achieved with their students over the school year. The system tries to account for students arriving into a class at different academic levels by measuring individual student progress. But there are complexities and complications.
The Times hired a respected researcher to calculate "value-added" ratings for some 6,000 teachers in grades three, four and five. The newspaper plans to release ratings for each teacher in the next few days, an intention that has infuriated union leaders and many teachers.
On the show, Song and Felch review their findings and defend the paper's decision to release ratings for individual teachers.
Many listeners know that I'm an education reporter for the L.A. Times. As it happens, I did not have a role in creating, writing or internally assessing the value-added series.
Next week, in Part 2 of this interview, the reporters will talk about how they got inside the classrooms of teachers they knew they were likely to describe as ineffective. We'll also discuss the challenge of describing a classroom when you know in advance you're looking for elements of ineffectiveness.
-- Howard Blume
p.s. Barbara Osborn fans fear not. She'll be returning soon from her extended family jaunt to Turkey.