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Should Teacher Evaluations Be Made Public?

Should Teacher Evaluations Be Made Public?

Should teachers have details about their job performance made public? The Los Angeles Times sure thinks so. In recent months, the newspaper has waged a legal battle to have data about specific teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District published so that it can better interpret whether the schools do a good job of firing teachers with poor performance marks.

Certainly, making teacher evaluations a matter of public record could inform the debate on public school teacher tenure. As it stands, journalists and politicians have to look at broader information available to judge whether the schools are doing a good job of firing low performing teachers. If, for example, outside parties could see the criteria used to measure specific teachers and whether or not they were kept on the job, they could determine the effectiveness of the existing teacher retention protocol.

Still, that transparency would come at the cost of the teachers’ right to privacy. It’s not as though most employees – including other government employees – have their job evaluations publicized for the world to see. Furthermore, considering that evaluations are largely determined by standardized testing scores – a measure that is already largely disputed for being inaccurate and/or meaningless – it isn’t necessarily fair to publish teachers’ names alongside scores that aren’t necessarily representative of the work they’ve put in to their jobs.

Although the Times won an initial case to have this teacher evaluation information disclosed, the LAUSD appeal was successful with three state appellate court judges. They side with LAUSD’s reasons why releasing this data on specific employees could be harmful:

  • It could establish an unproductively competitive environment for teachers.
  • It could cause resentment among fellow teachers.
  • It could stop teachers from seeking employment at LAUSD.
  • It could drive existing teachers away from LAUSD.
  • It could prompt a rush of parents to try to transfer their children into the classes of the best performing teachers.

“Clearly, the public has an interest in avoiding these consequences in its schools,” wrote Judge Russell Kussman.

The Times’ lawyers were unimpressed with the judges’ concerns about speculative problems. LAUSD provided no hard evidence that any of these situations would actually occur if the data was to be released, so they continue to argue that they lack sufficient grounds to block the data disclosure.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Superintendent John Deasy says he agrees with the court’s decision and vows that improving teacher performance at the schools is already being handled internally. Aafter the evaluation system was refined a few years ago, Deasy claims that there has been a surge in not granting poor performing teachers tenure and dismissing them from their jobs.

However, this court battle isn’t entirely finished. The judges believed it was perhaps acceptable for data to be made public about individual schools rather than individual teachers. Rather than deciding this issue themselves, the judges are handing that back to the lower courts to reach a verdict.

What do you think? Is this just another way to publicly trounce teachers already trying to navigate a difficult profession or is it a smart solution for demanding accountability from our education system?


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9:22AM PDT on Aug 4, 2014

There is a difference between public record and free access. I believe that parents should have the right to know the evaluations of their kids teachers. But I do not think it is a good idea to automatically publish the results in a newspaper.

Regarding the standardized testing scores, they may not be the best way to evaluate someone, but guess what? Most people have to take this kind of test as part of being evaluated for a degree or to get a job, so why should teachers be different?

Teacher unions oppose any means of evaluation. They oppose school rankings, standarized tests, as well as any type of evaluation by goverment or parents committees.

Finally, I have never found good teachers that opposed being evaluated. It was always the incompetent ones that opposed it.

8:07AM PDT on Aug 4, 2014

Students and parents should made it first.

3:16PM PDT on Aug 3, 2014

Why not publish the criteria by which teachers are evaluated, so that parents could judge for themselves, whether specific teachers are living up to those criteria?? This way, parents wouldn't know exactly what the evaluators of specific teachers wrote, but they would know the guidelines used by evaluators and could draw conclusions themselves.

9:54AM PDT on Aug 3, 2014

thank you for the interesting article

5:49PM PDT on Aug 2, 2014

Thank you

5:02PM PDT on Aug 2, 2014

Knowledge is power.
I would go further, CCTV cams in classrooms too, so parents can assess teachers. and would help in the selection of teachers for promotion or more pay.

7:07PM PDT on Aug 1, 2014

Whereas teachers should be held accountable, this does not sound like a good way to do that.

3:22PM PDT on Aug 1, 2014

Would make for good local townhall meetings with residents.

3:37AM PDT on Aug 1, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

10:40PM PDT on Jul 31, 2014

Fully agree. First there is privacy ? If they introduce it in schools, then soon other institutions / hospitals f.i. aso will follow. my stepdaugter is a schoolteacher, working for 15 years now. Many people are jealous because they have many weeks free, but when I see that she is regularly working till 22.00/23.00 hrs at night, even during weekends also to look up more info to introduce to the pupils, then I reckon there is no reason to be jealous. If she's really bad, enough parents will complain and she can forget abt her career. It is the responsibility of the school management to supervise their employees, and no comments whatsoever shld become public, either positive or negative. My goodness, where are we going to ? Now already we have several camera's in each street, the shops, public places and much much more. If this continues I'll get afraid to go out any longer and show my face in the street. And since everyone has computer and internet (specially facebook) everybody can trace you. As a single woman, I hve received several "candidates" from a dating site. And I never heard from that company But somehow, somewhere they got my personal information. This is BAD !! I'm a Beglian (Europe) and hope that also here, we never will commence there arguments. I'm quite convinced that since we all are living in the econo crisis, we fear to loose our jobs enough not to do the utmost in our profession.

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