"Outing" teachers in California stirs controversy
| Aug 19, 2010
The publication of a controversial, and groundbreaking, article by the Los Angeles Times raises complex questions about whether to "out" teachers whose students perform poorly on reading and math tests. That is especially when the "value-added" techniques used to identify them are themselves mostly untested and filled with hazards, even to statisticians who do this kind of thing for a living.
The Times' analysis holds the potential to fling open the door of any California classroom for public examination in a way that has never been attempted before – with completely uncertain outcomes. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has no problems with the practice. "What do they have to hide?" he said in response to the Times article, referring to the teachers identified in the report.
Bonnie Reiss, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's secretary of education, also gushed. "Publishing this data is not about demonizing teachers," she said. "It's going to create a more marketplace-driven approach to results." On the other hand, the United Teachers of Los Angeles denounced the disclosures as "dangerous and irresponsible." Union leader A.J. Duffy is threatening a boycott of the paper, plus possible legal action. Read more of this blog post by Louis Freedberg on California Watch .