Why is it that the only people, seemingly in America, who oppose judging schoolteachers by the performance of their students, are … teachers?
Or at least their unions, who have declared war on the Los Angeles Times for daring to measure teacher effectiveness, and to name names:
The Los Angeles teachers union president said Sunday he was organizing a "massive boycott" of The Times after the newspaper began publishing a series of articles that uses student test scores to estimate the effectiveness of district teachers.
"You're leading people in a dangerous direction, making it seem like you can judge the quality of a teacher by … a test," said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, which has more than 40,000 members.
Duffy said he would urge other labor groups to ask their members to cancel their subscriptions.
Forgive me, as I'm not a teacher, and I'm childless, but if I'm asked to judge the quality of a teacher at all, by what metric should I judge if not by student performance? By how nice a teacher is during parent-teacher conferences? By whether she's a union delegate? By her students' self-esteem, even if they can't multiply 11 by 12?
The Times study allows for, and takes into account, that teachers in different schools are given students of varying preparation and ability, by measuring teachers within individual schools and by using student improvement, as opposed to simple scores, to gauge effectiveness.
But it's war between the Los Angeles teachers union and the Times. I believe I'll walk down to the local big newsstand tomorrow and buy a copy of the Times just to reward the paper for publishing this.
As Alex Tabarrok points out, the Los Angeles school district could derive the same or similar conclusions from the same data, but refuses to do so. That the Times is doing it should place the paper front and center for a Pulitzer. Effective teachers deserve to be recognized. As for ineffective teachers, the right of the taxpayers and parents of Los Angeles to know trumps the right of drones to put in time until the pension vests.