The Los Angeles Times today published what I think is an incredibly “cheap shot” at teachers today headlined “Grading The Teachers: Who’s teaching L.A.’s kids?”

The paper collected data from student test scores on teachers in the district, put them in a data base on the newspaper site, and identified the supposed “value-added” increase each teacher provided. The article itself also highlighted — by name and photo — supposedly “effective” and “ineffective” teachers.

The Times could have chosen to write an article examining the complexities inherent in teacher evaluations, looking at what research has identified as useful and accurate. They could have spoken with teachers and others with extensive education experience to identify what are some commonly agreed characteristics of effective teachers. They could have asked teachers what kind of evaluation process has been most helpful to them, or what they think might be most useful (that is the topic of an extensive post I’m concidentally just finishing up today).

And, they could have highlighted the two teachers who they consider “effective” based on test scores, flawed assessments that they might be (see The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments and The Best Resources For Learning About The “Value-Added” Approach Towards Teacher Evaluation).

But to publicly label countless hardworking teachers as ineffective based on such flawed data really is a cheap shot that is insulting, not to mention demoralizing, to many.

I wonder how the reporters would feel if the Times listed on their website the number of “hits” reporters get on the stories they have written, and publicly labeled the reporters who got the most as their most effective reporters and based hiring, firing, and compensation decisions largely on those statistics?

UPDATE: Here’s a comment from LA teacher Kathie Kienzle Marshall:

“The most disappointing part, Larry, is two-fold:

1) It comes as the district is just initiating a teacher evaluation reform movement that requires trust and buy-in from all teachers, something this article shredded to bits.

2) At least one of the authors of this report was at the LAUSD two-day district convocation on teacher evaluation, where s/he/they SHOULD have gained enough understanding of the complexity of teacher evaluation to have thought long and hard about this “expose”.