New way to rate schools in Los Angeles Unified School District

The Los Angeles Unified School District has released what will be its new approach to measure a school's success. The LAUSD announced it is moving toward a "new and comprehensive system of computing student gains," to help provide a more complete assessment of student performance. This differs from the traditional approach, which compares groups of students from one year to the next. The new approach will instead compare a student's performance to his or her own expected performance over a period of time. The name for the new approach is "Academic Growth over Time." This value-added approach to rating schools will be based on how much progress individual students make each year rather than just their achievement level.

The District will then use these numbers to rate schools, taking into consideration ..."the impact of schools and educators on student learning outcomes and…a value-added method that controls for external factors, which often influence student test results." Teachers will also be given confidential ratings of their performance using the same data and the LAUSD is currently negotiating with teachers' union representatives to include the rating into the formal teacher performance reviews. Opponents of this measure believe it's unfair to rate teachers this way, while proponents believe it's a much more accurate measure of how a student is doing.

Some Los Angeles schools, which appeared to be doing well before Academic Growth over Time was applied, have now been rated lower. The L.A. Times gives the example of a school in Hancock Park, an affluent neighborhood in Los Angeles, which, under the new ratings system, is now one of the lowest-performing schools in LAUSD. The principal was shocked by the results, according to the Times.

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