Los Angeles Unified School District teachers must be at least partially judged by student performance on standardized tests, according to a ruling by a California Superior Court judge on Tuesday.
The ruling in the case of Doe V. Deasy states that schools begin enforcing the four-decade-old Stull Act, which requires school districts to evaluate teachers based on the academic performance of their students.
Enacted in 1971, the Stull Act originally mandated that districts evaluate teachers based on their students' performance on locally established standards. It was then expanded by the State Assembly in 1999 under the leadership of former Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa to require that assessments be based on "pupil progress toward the state adopted academic content standards as measured by state adopted assessment."
Currently, schools in LAUSD are ranked based on student performance on tests like the California Standards Test (CST), but teachers are not judged by those same standards.
A group of parents and students, who argued that LAUSD has failed to enforce the Stull Act for decades, brought the case to court last fall.
In the introduction to the filing, the plaintiffs referred to LAUSD as "broken" and stated that it "has failed millions of children over the past 40 years [...] by failing to establish a lawful standard for satisfactory performance of certificated adults, which necessarily must be based, at least in part, upon student progress."
Villaraigosa, now Mayor of Los Angeles, released a statement in November stating his support for the plaintiffs.
"We need to be doing everything in our power to ensure teachers are getting the feedback and resources they need to excel and help our students reach their potential," he wrote. "Until this lawsuit, this part of the Stull Act had been gathering dust for more than a decade. But a courageous group of parents have stepped forward to remind us of a time when the California Legislature was focused on building a better school system and to remind that we must sometimes demand compliance with the law."
Villaraigosa plans to publicly state his support for the ruling on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. on the steps of the Stanley Mosk courthouse at 111 N. Hill Street.
Arturo Valdez,, said that be believed student performance on standardized tests should not be the sole factor in evaluating teachers.
"I think it's the direction we are going in. I hope it's not the only measure, but certainly it plays a role," Valdez said. "It's just another tool. I think the problem is people want to make it the sole tool, and that's wrong."
Valdez said that teachers at Burbank--which has seen dramatic improvement in student performance in math and social studies this year according to the school's periodic assessment tests--are evaluated based on a combination of classroom observations and conversations with administration.
"Evaluations are based on observations that are made, conversations that are conducted. We want to see all the training we provide for them, we want to make sure it's integrated in the classroom. We also look at the [test] data as a team and individually, one cannot turn a blind eye to the data."