LAUSD Must Use State Standards to Evaluate Teachers, Judge Rules

By Bill Hetherman, City News Service

The Los Angeles Unified School District must comply with state law requiring that student performance, including test scores, be considered when teachers and principals are given job evaluations, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant finalized a 25-page tentative ruling he handed down Monday. The ruling was in response to a petition filed by a group of parents supported by EdVoice, a Sacramento-based education reform group. The lawsuit filed last Nov. 1 is aimed at making the LAUSD abide by a state law called the Stull Act requiring that evidence of student learning must be used in teacher and principal evaluations.

“Does the district comply with the Stull Act? The answer is no,” Chalfant said.

The judge said the law must be enforced regardless of any collective bargaining agreements with the district that may present obstacles.

“You can’t agree by contract to violate a law,” Chalfant said. Chalfant said the district has discretion how it will comply with the order. He also did not set a deadline for LAUSD compliance, saying the attorneys should meet and confer on the issue and consider including that information in a final judgment. He set a hearing on the judgment for July 24.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said outside the courthouse after the hearing that he was pleased with Chalfant’s ruling and that he hoped EdVoice leaders would take their case to other districts.

“This decision sews the seeds of change for public schools,” Villaraigosa said. “I’m hoping these fine individuals will sue other school districts up and down the state.”

Villaraigosa said the “better evaluations mean better teachers” and that translates to improved student performance.

“We can’t compete in a global economy if kids can’t make the grade,” he said.

The mayor said he hopes the order will be implemented within the LAUSD by September.

The use of standardized test scores is opposed by teachers’ unions. United Teachers Los Angeles attorney Jesus Quinones told Chalfant he opposed the issuance of the order, saying the district and the union are already doing many of the things specified by the law.

Quinones also chided critics who he said have suggested the LAUSD and the teachers do not care about the students.

“There’s absolutely no evidence of that. Those are just headline grabs,” Quinones said.

The nation’s second-largest school district on Monday issued a statement on behalf of Superintendent John Deasy in reaction to the tentative ruling.

“Dr. Deasy agrees with the judge’s tentative ruling, and … that the district has waited far too long to comply with the law,” the statement says. “This is why LAUSD has created its own evaluation system and has begun to use it. The system was developed with the input of teachers and administrators. Now the district needs to move quickly to comply with the law.”

Deasy attended Tuesday’s hearing and said afterward he agreed with Chalfant’s ruling.

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June 14, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


One Response to “LAUSD Must Use State Standards to Evaluate Teachers, Judge Rules”

  1. Ronald Glymph on June 14th, 2012 1:03 pm

    If improving outcomes for students is the desired results, school districts must change the way they teach students. Every teacher who has completed an accredited teacher education program in the United States knows that the instructional approaches used in most school districts are not effective. This is because the over-all goal is to create A, B, C, D and F students. ‘In other words winners and losers”. What do you think would happen if every student learned, mastered and excelled in all core disciplines? No one cares about the students who receive Cs, Ds, and Fs, just as long as it isn’t their child. All of the research on learning tells us that students learn best in cooperative settings where student are allowed to peer tutor and scaffold one another. These types of learning experiences are kept to a minimum in most school districts. Every student and every teacher is in constant competition rather than working together to make sure that everyone learns. Now that student performance, including test scores, are going to be considered when teachers and principals are given job evaluations, maybe these so-called educators will reconsider their instructional methods and practices. I hope that for the sake of students, that school districts will begin using cooperative platforms to make access to learning available to all students.

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