LAUSD School Board member Steve Zimmer sat down with a group of concerned parents and student advocates last night in Mar Vista to explain his position on a controversial resolution he may present at next week’s School Board meeting, concerning teacher evaluation plans.
The parents in attendance were concerned about how to make sure every teacher in every classroom is doing an excellent job with our students. Zimmer, a former teacher himself, maintains he is committed to excellence as well, and I take him at his word. He is also committed to supporting teachers who can, and are willing, to improve.
It has been difficult, if not impossible, to dismiss teachers from their jobs at LAUSD, a practice that has frustrated many parents and administrators, not to mention many teachers as well.
The growing desire to see Teachers held accountable has led to struggles between opposing parties over how – and whether – to do it. For many years the teacher’s union (UTLA) has fought against any evaluation standards at all, much to the dismay of parents.
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy has worked to create a tool to evaluate teachers employing AGT (“Academic Growth over Time”), which measures student progress as demonstrated by standardized test scores over time. And political momentum has built for seeing this measurement tool implemented soon.
Zimmer has been on the proverbial hot seat because of a resolution he’s proposed that some say would prevent the implementation of AGT. But Zimmer countered those critics, saying he simply wants to make sure the evaluation tools would actually measure all teachers.
If the California Standards Test (CST) were the sole basis to measure student growth, that would leave many teachers out, according to Zimmer, since many teachers will never administer those tests to their students. Kindergarten students, for example, do not take standardized tests.
Zimmer also told the assembled group that, contrary to what many may have feared, the teacher’s union has moved closer toward an evaluation tool proposal, or closer to agreeing on the use of the tools Dr. Deasy is proposing. Therefore, Zimmer said, he may not present his resolution at all, since the two sides may have come to an agreement by then.
The ins and out of these proposals are complex, to be sure, but it seems clear that LAUSD is closer to having a teacher evaluation tool in place that they may have ever been. Stay tuned.
Sarah Auerswald is the co-Founder of MomsLA, a Community of the Top Mom Bloggers in Los Angeles and Orange County. She’s also the Mother of two children in public school.