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Monday, November 19, 2012

New L.A. teachers often assigned to weaker students, study says


L.A. Unified teachers’ effectiveness also varies ‘substantially,’ says the study, which looked at students’ standardized math test scores.
A new study has found that inexperienced teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District are disproportionately more likely to be assigned to lower-performing math students, perpetuating the achievement gap.
The study also found that L.A. Unified teachers “vary substantially” in their effectiveness, with top teachers able to give students the equivalent of eight additional months of learning in a year compared with weaker instructors.
Such findings raise “deep concerns,” said Drew Furedi, the district’s executive director of talent management, who oversees teacher training. “For us, it’s a call to action.”
The study by the Strategic Data Project, which is affiliated with Harvard University‘s Center for Education Policy Research, analyzed the performance of about 30% of L.A. Unified teachers and presented findings based primarily on students’ standardized math test scores from 2005 through 2011 in grades three through eight. The study’s authors acknowledged that test scores were only one measure of teacher effectiveness.
The study also found that teacher performance after two years is a fairly good predictor of future effectiveness. That finding could be used to challenge moves to overturn laws that let teachers gain tenure after just a few years — a growing effort by those who argue that administrators need more time to make that decision.