LOS ANGELES – Parents and taxpayers have won another fight in the battle over the public disclosure of teacher performance ratings.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled this week the public interest in disclosing teacher performance ratings outweighs any potential harm or embarrassment to teachers, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The case revolves around a Los Angeles Times request for student test scores for the last several years. School officials released scores to the newspaper several years ago, and the most recent request is to update a database it created for the public to show how teachers are performing.
LA school officials and the teachers union argued the release of the data would create chaos and could embarrass teachers, the newspaper reports.
“The Times sought three years of district data, from 2009 through 2012, that show whether individual teachers helped – or hurt – students academic achievement, as measured by state standardized tests,” The Times reports.
“Using a complex mathematical formula, the district aims to isolate a teacher’s effect on student growth by controlling for such outside factors as poverty, race, English ability and prior tests. The district sought to use that type of analysis, known in L.A. Unified as Academic Growth over Time, in teacher evaluations but was fiercely resisted by the teachers union, which argues that it is unreliable.
“The two sides have agreed not to use individual ratings in evaluations and have joined to fight the Times’ request for them,” the newspaper reports.
Fortunately, L.A. County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant sees the value in making the information public.
“The public has an interest in disclosure of the scores because they reflect on both student achievement and teacher performance, as well as LAUSD’s choices in allocating time and resources,” Chalfant wrote in his ruling Thursday, The Times reports.
“Vigorous public debate about whether teacher (Academic Growth over Time) scores are useful is to be encouraged, not stifled.”
Times attorney Rochelle Wilcox said there is no evidence releasing the information on teachers would cause anyone harm.
“The school district is compiling this information to benefit the public and the public has a protected interest in evaluation the district’s performance,” Wilcox told the Times.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Regardless of the reliability of the data, it’s public information and the public should have access to all available information to make informed decisions about not only their child’s education, but also the district officials they elect to run LA’s schools.
United Teachers Los Angeles, the district’s teachers union, has vowed to appeal Chalfant’s decision.