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Facebook Group Calls for LA Times Boycott Over Plans to Publish LAUSD Teacher Performance Data

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The Los Angeles Times is poised to release a database of performance data for teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District. This is to follow on the heels of a recent analysis published by the paper that examines the efficacy of 5th grade teachers as part of their series "Grading the Teachers."

However, not everyone is happy with the Times' plans, and some have organized a boycott and letter-writing campaign via Facebook to give voice to their opposition to the newspaper.

On the other side of the issue, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has come out in support of releasing the information, saying that he believes parents have a right to know which of their children's teachers are doing well at their jobs. "Doing well," however, is measured by the LAUSD, and many other school districts nationwide, by how much improvement their students show on standardized tests scores. This leaves no room for any non-quantitative material about a teacher's performance to be a part of determining their worth as an education.

Worth is a key component in these evaluations, which are labeled "value-added," and are meant to give districts a way to reward "more effective" teachers who might otherwise be compensated the same as "less effective" ones. "Duncan said public disclosure of the value-added results would allow school systems to identify teachers who are doing things right," according to the Times.

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Some argue that it's the LA Times in this case who are not doing things right. "We've had it with L.A. Times bashing Teachers! Enough is enough! Please consider cancelling your subscription today & tell the LA Times how you feel," begins the opening remarks on the Facebook page set up by the UTLA. Many members are already sharing their letters and posting that they have opted to cut ties with the Times. (Read the UTLA's position about value-added evaluation here.)

The Times reports that value-added evaluation and the publication of the data has become a bipartisan issue, with Democratic-appointed Duncan offering endorsement, as well as California Secretary of Education Bonnie Reiss. Reiss said "the state will encourage districts to develop and release value-added scores for teachers." The emphasis is not in pointing fingers at "bad" teachers; says Reiss: "Publishing this data is not about demonizing teachers. It's going to create a more market-driven approach to results."

The LA Times will publish the database at the end of the month.