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Protecting Kids - Avoiding the Worst Teachers in LA

Last school year, I staged a brief sit-in at my local government school. I demanded that my child not be subjected to "tag team teaching" where 2 teachers split teaching duties for a classroom. It's incredibly disruptive for the students because each teacher has their own style and knowledge about students. Plus when one can't make it they bring in substitutes turning the class into a rotating array of teachers. (Teaching is already a part time job with 3 months off in the summer, a 8-2:30 workday, ultra generous vacation days, half days on Wednesday, 'in service' days where there's no students attending and required extended breaks each day, it makes no sense to make it part-part time.)

While it may be accommodating for teachers to split teaching duties it is disastrous for the learning experience. After listening to the principal say it was not possible to switch classes a few times and me emphasizing that I wasn't going to leave the office until it happened she relented and moved my kid to a classroom where he thrived.

“Protective unions have made it impossible to fire poor performing teachers so parents must respond by working equally hard to protect their kids”

I was aware of the downside of tag team teaching only because my kid suffered through a year of this experiment the previous year. Unfortunately there was no data for me to consult beforehand to avoid the year long lesson about why tag team teaching doesn't work. My child had to endure 9 months of poor quality education for me to grow smarter.

Parents should have data about the effectiveness of schools and teachers and be able to select what's best for them and their children. The Los Angeles Times recently looked at several years of test scores for Los Angeles children and by comparing where students scored on standardized tests entering the school year and where they exited were able to calculate the impact of teachers. It's called value-added analysis. 20% of teachers are in the BEST category where students showed the most improvement and 20% were the WORST where students saw dramatically lower improvement. It turns out that great teachers can be found at nearly every school, but so can horrible teachers.

They published the results here and they shined the light on great teachers, but made it harder to find a list of poor teachers or make other conclusions about the data. I thought it would be a valuable service to give parents more unencumbered access to the data. Here's a list of the worst teachers in Los Angeles Unified School District. Here's a list sorted by school. Protective unions have made it impossible to fire poor performing teachers so parents must respond by working equally hard to protect their kids from the worst teachers which can stunt their academic growth so much they might never catch up with classmates.

I live in San Diego and unfortunately this data is not available for my school district. If it was and my kid was assigned to one of the worst teachers I would stage another sit-in and demand that they be moved. It's worth a day or two sleeping in the principal's office to insure my child gets the attention he deserves.

Here's some other data:

Los Angeles' 20 Worst Schools (as measured by having the largest number of lowest quality teachers)
Los Angeles' Best Schools (measured by highest overall effective teachers)

Here's the entire list in spreadsheet form so it's easy to analyze in many ways. I hope it helps parents get the best education possible for their kids. Special thanks to the LA Times for embarking on this valuable investigation and to the Hechinger Report, an independent nonprofit education news organization at Teachers College, Columbia University for helping fund it.

--MR
michael@michaelrobertson.com



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