Education Nation

Education Nation

A solutions-focused conversation about the state of education in America

After Fatality, UC Berkeley Examines Grading Teachers

By Matt Baume
|  Thursday, Sep 30, 2010  |  Updated 12:15 PM PDT
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Teachers, parents, and reporters are taking a long hard look at education reporting in the wake of a "Grading the Teacher" series that may have prompted one instructor to commit suicide.

This week at UC Berkeley, LA Times reporter Jason Felch discussed his paper's reasons for evaluating local teachers. According to Felch, teachers don't get enough feedback on job performance, particularly as they compare to their colleagues.

Using seven years' worth of data, the Times examined students' test scores, and assigned scores to instructors. Felch said that he hoped school districts would make use of the data. So far, they have not.

The newspaper's research is not without critics. One UCB statistician pointed out that test scores shouldn't be the only determinant of a teacher's effectiveness. Another instructor claimed that the study was evidence of hostility towards teachers.

On Sunday, a Los Angeles teacher was found dead near a bridge. Although it's not known why he took his life, he had recently received a below-average rating in the study. In response, the teachers' union demanded that the paper take down its rankings.

But there's also reason for optimism. Tonight, Santa Clara will recognize thirty Teachers of the Year, whose work has gone above and beyond to make a difference in students' lives.

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