Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is California's "Firewall" Penetrable?

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell countered criticism by Education Secretary Arne Duncan about a state law restricting the use of student assessment data in teacher evaluations. As reported in today's Los Angeles Times, O'Connell highlighted Long Beach Unified as a school district that does exactly that.
California's top education official sought Tuesday to counter federal criticism of the state's reluctance to use student test scores to evaluate teachers, paying a visit to Long Beach to highlight one of the few California school districts to make extensive use of such data.

The Long Beach Unified School District's use of student scores to assess the effectiveness of programs, instructional strategies and teachers is a rarity in California, and state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell called it a model for other California school districts during a hastily arranged round-table discussion.

At issue is a 2006 California law that prohibits use of student data to evaluate teachers at the state level. O'Connell said Obama and Duncan misunderstand the law, which does not bar local districts from using the information.
O'Connell also released a statement on this issue last week.

Long Beach Unified is a 2009 finalist for the Broad Prize and was recently profiled by TIME magazine as one of the top urban school systems in the nation.

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