Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Calling on LAUSD and UTLA to Address Teacher Quality

Communities for Teaching Excellence applauds LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and UTLA President Warren Fletcher for working collaboratively to design a new agreement that provides schools with increased flexibility outside of the current union contract. This agreement represents an important step forward by providing every school in Los Angeles with the freedom to craft customized plans for hiring, classroom assignments, instruction, and budgeting. It also loosens certain policies - such as the “must-place list,” which forced principals to hire teachers without regard for teacher quality - that have impeded efforts to provide effective teaching for every student, in every classroom, every year in Los Angeles. While clear accountabilities in exchange for these flexibilities are still needed, this moves us in the right direction.

We are deeply disappointed, however, that teacher quality is not comprehensively addressed in this agreement, despite a significant body of research indicating that an effective teacher is the most important in-school factor in raising student achievement. In fact, research shows that access to an effective teacher can literally make or break a student’s chances at success. The critical need to increase students’ access to effective teaching is underscored by LAUSD’s continued low-performance on the Nation’s 2011 Report Card for urban school districts and in the persistent achievement gaps for low-income students, and students of color. We believe the best way to address these achievement gaps and to ensure all students are college and career ready is for the district to fundamentally alter its current approaches to recruiting, supporting, evaluating, and rewarding effective teachers.

We support and commend the district’s pilot program that is working with hundreds of teachers to develop and implement a robust teacher evaluation system. This new system—which relies on multiple measures—is designed to provide a more objective measure of performance, and will ensure more informed decision-making around hiring, placement, and resource allocation. It is only with such a system in place that the district can improve its teacher and leader corps and pursue important reforms in other areas such as tenure and compensation. More importantly, this new system will provide parents information to help guide their decision-making about their child’s education.

We urge Superintendent Deasy and President Fletcher to advance their collaborative efforts and continue working to build a culture of effective teaching. We invite students, parents, teachers and the community to join us in advocating for teaching quality reforms in LAUSD, and to ensure effective teaching for every student, in every classroom, every year.

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