A Los Angeles judge has issued a tentative ruling and ordered the L.A. Unified School District to use student achievement in reviewing instructors.
L.A. County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant upheld claims by a group of parents that the district was violating a 40-year-old state law, known as the Stull Act, which requires that teacher evaluations include measures of how well pupils are learning what the state expects them to know each year. The law was amended in 1999 to specifically require the use of state standardized test scores to measure student progress.
But Chalfant did not order the district to use student test scores in evaluations. Which specific measures are used, how they are incorporated into performance reviews, how the different elements are weighted and how administrators are trained in using student performance measures “may well be a matter subject to collective bargaining,” he wrote.
The ruling, while tentative, lends significant legal clout to a growing movement to use student test scores as part of a teacher’s performance review. Several states have begun incorporating them into teacher reviews and the Obama administration is also pushing school districts to use them.
“In the ongoing debate about how to reform America’s struggling public schools—where the poor and students of color tend to be concentrated—teachers have been painted as the culprits responsible for students’ poor achievement,” said Julianne Hing, Colorlines.com’s education reporter.
“Using their students’ test scores to gauge whether teachers should keep their jobs is the perfect illustration of this aggression toward teachers. Critics of the overreliance on high-stakes testing say that such a move puts too much weight on unreliable, irrelevant, unfair tests, and that the real roots of our country’s education inequities lie in high rates of poverty and housing segregation, which is leading to the resegregation of U.S. public schools.”