L.A. Times: We Did the Math, and Some Teachers Are Better Than Others. Union: Boycott!


The Los Angeles Times crunched a bunch of numbers on standardized test performance over the last seven years to gauge the relative effectiveness of various teachers in the city. Then it published a summary of the results, noting that there is a huge gap between the gains shown by kids in classrooms with a good teacher and those right down the hall suffering under a bad teacher. Obvious, as far as it goes. Interestingly, they also found that the variation between teachers was more important than the variation between schools.

But the Los Angeles Times also promised to publish a bunch more stories based on the teacher quality data, and they say they're going to make their database public. Naturally, the union is now calling for a boycott of the paper by its 40,000 members. But here's the part that really kills:

The district has had the ability to analyze the differences among teachers for years but opted not to do so, in large part because of anticipated union resistance, The Times found.

Lots more on teachers unions here.

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56 responses to “L.A. Times: We Did the Math, and Some Teachers Are Better Than Others. Union: Boycott!

  1. teachers unions are good because they teach kids how to write good and seek rents and do other stuff good too

    1. u fergot the peroid preoid pereid dot at the end of yore scentance.

      1. stop terkin down to us you russian

    2. I still don’t understand what teacher’s unions exist for. If they fundamentally can’t accept that some teachers in the teacher’s union suck at their jobs then that means they must believe they have some sort of infallibility, a divine right to teach. If you teach at a private school you get paid less than a public school teacher and can be fired on the spot. Somehow, the quality of teacher just seems better when there are realistic performance goals required to keep your job.

      Why can’t unions understand that they are undermining education by being so pigheadedly stubborn? Or are they just that craven?

      1. because the union’s admitted function is to serve union members not teh childrun.

      2. and despite that pay difference, most inner city parents would rather send their kids to a private school for the.. BETTER EDUCATION.

        The Milwaukee Public Schools union is pretty shameless

    3. Beauty of a Zoolander ref.

  2. Who run Barter Town?

  3. The numbers lie. We are all equal and everyone is the best at everything.

    1. But don’t forget to give more money to teachers with various certificates and to those with more experience. More experienced teachers are always better, no matter what the numbers say.

    2. That’s right! All of our childrens are above average, just like at that, that … place.

      1. Lake Woebegon?

  4. So if the quality of the teacher doesn’t matter, why do we need to save their jobs? Seems like we could fire all of them, and hire people off the street for a fraction of the cost, and save the state tons of money.

    1. People off the street? Rodents work for even less.

      1. This has nothing to do with the server squirrels.

        1. On Hit&Run; everything is about the server squirrels.

          Or else.

    2. But they’re Elleeguls!!!

  5. Seems like this means the students are giving the teachers a grade. I think that’s fantastic! Any teacher receiving failing grade loses a job and a finger.

  6. This is obvious,of course. But I think it worth mentioning that a within school comparison of teachers’ performance is more valid than a between school comparison. SES has a powerful influence on school performance scores at the group level. A great teacher in a low SES area could potentially improve the overall average a whole lot and still have students that under-perform (on a group level) when compared to the kids in a poor teacher’s class in a higher SES area.

    Another way to say this is that the quality of the teacher matters more when the students in the school rely more heavily on the school due to outside factors like parental education/stress/access to resources/etc.

    Some of the best teachers work at under-performing schools. They make a bigger difference there than they would at a high-performing school.

    1. Unions use this issue inappropriately when they try to block performance-based evaluation. The specifics of performance-based evaluation procedures need to take into account the other known factors impacting student performance. But that doesn’t mean the teacher’s contribution can’t be measured fairly.

      1. “Unions use this issue inappropriately when they try to block performance-based evaluation. The specifics of performance-based evaluation procedures need to take into account the other known factors impacting student performance. But that doesn’t mean the teacher’s contribution can’t be measured fairly.”

        And that’s exactly what the LAT measure does. It compares students to their own performance.

        For example, say in grade 3, a student was in the 60 percentile. In grade 4, you would expect them to stay the same. But if they fall or rise a lot, then we look to see what changed. If most of the kids in the class did the same, then we get a pattern.

      2. I am unable to think of any union*, anywhere, that wants its members to be subject to performance evaluation.

        *And I include the Bar Association and the Medical Association.

        1. Hmm, the CPA profession requires it for a lot of activities.

          1. In the correct sense of “proving the rule”, I am going to challenge that exception.

            I see no evidence that accountants’ associations make a general practice of auditing the work of their membership unless there is an Enron-style financial catastrophe. In my time as a banker I saw a lot of incredibly sloppy “financial statements” prepared by people with accounting degrees.

            1. CPA’s are REQUIRED to get performance evaluations. I believe it’s only for those that practice the attest (audit) function though. Note maybe this is just in CA, I’m not sure. I really haven’t looked into it that much, except to make sure I didn’t have to get one, lol.

              Since I only do taxes I’m fine.

              1. “prepared by people with accounting degrees.”

                Oh, degree != CPA

        2. Lawyers are subject to non-stop performance evaluations, by other lawyers (negotiating, drafting, litigation, etc.), the courts, and their, of course, their clients.

        3. Major League Baseball Players Association. They have encouraged performance evaluation in arbitration hearings.

          1. They love them some performance enhancement – er, evaluation.

    2. I agree wholeheartedly. Within school performance evaluation is necessary. Comparing schools gets you a lot of headaches and potentially politicized disasters. But teachers do not want to be evaluated, period. Experience and certificates are what count most.

      1. stop twerking shutup shutup!

      2. Experience Seniority and certificates are what count most. There are lots of people who spend years doing something and never gain any real experience. Teachers seem unusually susceptible to experience-free existence. Union leaders are even worse.

  7. Posted earlier today, but it is worth repeating here:

    In a move of stunning hypocrisy, the United Federation of Teachers axed one of its longtime employees — for trying to unionize the powerful labor organization’s own workers, it was charged yesterday.

    Jim Callaghan, a veteran writer for the teachers union, told The Post he was booted from his $100,000-a-year job just two months after he informed UFT President Michael Mulgrew that he was trying to unionize some of his co-workers.

    “I was fired for trying to start a union at the UFT,” said a dumbfounded Callaghan, who worked for the union’s newsletter and as a speechwriter for union leaders for the past 13 years.

    Callaghan said he personally told Mulgrew on June 9 about his intention to try to organize nonunionized workers at UFT headquarters.

    “I told him I want to have the same rights that teachers have,” said Callaghan, 63, of Staten Island. “He told me he didn’t want that, that he wanted to be able to fire whoever he wanted to.”…..z0wnr4AIW3


    2. That’s so hilarious it makes me forget how infuriating it is!

    3. Case #6,938 of a public employee who’s perfectly comfortable making children suffer conditions in a public school that he’d never tolerate in his own workplace.

      “He wanted to be able to fire whoever he wanted to.”

      Gee, ain’t it a shame parents can’t do this to teachers?

  8. Save are teachers!

  9. My wife’s a 30+ year teacher and, let me tell you this: No matter what their unions say, teachers know *exactly* who’s getting the job done and who isn’t. Ninety percent of their conversation is about who’s got it and who doesn’t.

    1. If you read the article, some teachers that were VERY well regarded actually weren’t doing as good as they thought.

      What get’s measured can be improved.

    2. So the “good” teachers are like the “good” cops? The thin, chalk-dust line?

      1. No, I’m saying that without objective ways to measure perforamnce, those you think are good might not be good.

  10. I thought this was an excellent article by the LAT. Nice to see the MSM actually doing something good for a change.

  11. The Los Angeles Times was a great newspaper for many years, but declining since Sam Zell bought it.

    In the past couple months however, the Times exposed the city pay scandal in Bell, and is continuing to dig deeper on that story. The Times has also covered the government pension nightmare.

    The most important service the Times has done for California is to expose the many incompetent teachers in public schools. Maybe the Los Angele Times is once again becoming a great newspaper.

    1. we can hope

  12. Could any group of people suck more than unionized educators?

    1. unionized cops

  13. “Duffy attacked the reliability of standardized tests in general, but then defended the performance of his members in part by pointing to the rising graduation rates and Academic Performance Index scores at many campuses. The API is a separate statistical measure for schools which, at the elementary and middle school level, is entirely based on standardized tests.”

  14. It’s sad to see that the union has so much power!

  15. Assessing teacher quality using standardized test scores in isolation from other data (including SES of students and other measures of student performance) can be very misleading.

  16. It’s not the unions that keep bad teachers; it’s the chicken sheet administrators. The administrators have an obligation to honestly evaluate the teachers, but are afraid to be honest. So a bad teacher ends up keeping a job. Then there’s the part about how thankless a job it is, how teachers are blamed for EVERYTHING that’s wrong with the world and are the first to be cut from budgets in the states…so there’s not exactly a long line of qualified folks lining up for a career in being beotch slapped by the public. If not for the unions, the job would be so intolerable that you would have to import illegals to do it.

  17. Why is that such a big surprise? The bigger surprise is that we have systems and a society that does not understand the fact that we are all not the same. Why is that a bad thing?

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