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Teachers: Cortines Responds To Teacher Evaluation Article

Quotes2 "We reject the implication that test scores alone form the basis for designating a teacher as ineffective..."

-- Ray Cortines, superintendent of LAUSD (two statements)

Two statements from Cortines' office on Monday:


I want to assure the public that we in LAUSD are working to ensure that every classroom is led by an effective teacher and every school is led by an effective teacher leader. No one in LAUSD would support entirely the way teachers are evaluated, supported or fired. The entire evaluation system needs refinement in California and in many other states across the nation. As such, the Obama administration has spurred reform through its Race to the Top initiative of which LAUSD is an applicant. We are working to make every classroom a strong place of learning, inquiry and engagement.

This necessary and difficult work was the very important objective of the district’s own Teacher Effectiveness Task Force comprised of education researchers, teachers, union leaders, parents, community partners, and district staff. This group released its recommendations in April with the intent of implementing some of them or supporting legislation that addresses the changes needed this school year.

We reject the implication that test scores alone form the basis for designating a teacher as ineffective. Would a person be diagnosed with diabetes solely on the basis of a high blood pressure reading? No. Multiple tests or measures are necessary to determine the health of an individual or in our case, the effectiveness of a teacher or teacher leader.

Teaching is a profession and a calling. Please understand that we stand behind our teachers and administrators. Together we will work to make every classroom and school a place where every student can succeed and graduate ready to enter college or the workforce.


Superintendent Urges Sacramento to Help LAUSD Crackdown on Ineffective Teachers

Ramon C. Cortines Urges Strong Legislative Proposals to Weed out Bad Teachers

Los Angeles – Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines wants effective teachers in every classroom and today he announced that he is asking the California Legislature to change current laws that make reaching that goal impossible.


“The vast majority of teachers at LAUSD are very effective,” Cortines said, “however there are some who clearly are not and because we recognize the harm a single, ineffective teacher can do, board members requested, and I created, a Teacher Effectiveness Task Force to lead the way to effective instruction for all, and that clearly requires help from Sacramento.”


Based on the task force’s recommendations, Cortines is pushing a strong legislative agenda to improve classroom teaching and seeking the following changes with regard to teachers’ evaluation, tenure, layoffs and dismissal.




  • Create a robust, state-mandated, multiple measure evaluation system with a minimum of 30 percent of the measurement attributed to value-added student growth.


  • As part of that evaluation system, a new method of ranking teachers—highly effective, effective, needs improvement/developing or unsatisfactory/ineffective—would guide layoffs.  Regardless of seniority, as currently required, teachers in the unsatisfactory category would be laid off first.  How long a teacher has been in the classroom would be used only to prioritize the order in which teachers in that group would be laid off.



  • Extend the current two-year teacher probation period to four years before granting a teacher permanent tenure



  • Require principals to affirm that a teacher deserves tenure in place of the current practice of only denying tenure.


Reduction in Force/Layoffs


  • Extend the March 15 deadline for teacher layoff letters to a date closer to the end of the traditional school year, and after the state budget is revised in May when more realistic financial information is known.


  • Eliminate the layoff hearing process.


  • Allow Districts to prioritize layoffs to prevent an exodus from high-needs schools often staffed by newer teachers, or at schools deeply engaged in reform with high turnover.


  • Eliminate layoffs determined by seniority at such schools, based on a loss of one-fourth of all teachers in the preceding year or half of all teachers in the past five years.


  • Exempt layoffs of all “Teacher of the Year” awardees within the past five years.


  • Prioritize layoffs for teachers who have received two consecutive below standard evaluations and those who have not improved satisfactorily after a full year of intervention, and support through the local Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) program.


  • Prioritize layoffs for teachers who are chronically off campus on unauthorized absences.




  • Speed up the indeterminably long process to fire an ineffective teacher by setting a threshold of two consecutive unsatisfactory evaluations to constitute unsatisfactory performance and trigger dismissal proceedings


  • Eliminate the Commission of Professional Competence or make its decisions advisory and authorize the local school board to make the final decision


  • If the commission is not eliminated, broaden the composition of the panel to include parents and members of the community


“Our goal is to have an effective teacher in every classroom by working with the legislature, through District policy changes in partnership with our bargaining units,” Cortines continued.


Superintendent Cortines created the Teacher Effective Task Force in response to an April 2009 motion by Board Member Yolie Flores, Board President Mónica García and Board Vice President Dr. Richard Vladovic.  Chaired by Dr. Ted Mitchell, the task force included teachers, administrators, union leaders, parents and community members. Dismissal recommendations were provided by the LAUSD Office of General Counsel.


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If we view schools and school districts as teams much like football and baseball teams, it just makes sense to pay attention to everyone's contributions to the overall goals of the team, and that includes administrators too. One of the things that gets in the way of a value added approach is the fragile and volatile level of trust between administrators and teachers. Administrators evaluate teachers. Teachers don’t evaluate administrators. Too often the purpose of evaluation is punishment and elimination rather than on learning and refining. If safeguards could be embedded in the process that ensure against the lack of integrity, politics, personality issues and "right because I'm boss" thinking, that would go a long way in improving value added's acceptability by teachers. Ironically, my good efforts have been buried and disregarded in an apparent attempt to marginalize and discredit me. And so I serve at the top of my district's salary schedule in our district's own version of New York's Rubber Room, overseeing semi-suspended students.

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