The Los Angeles Unified School District has done an admirable job of collecting useful data about its teachers — which ones have the classroom magic that makes students learn and which ones annually let their students down. Yet it has never used that valuable information to analyze what successful teachers have in common, so that others can learn from them, or to let less effective teachers know how they’re doing.
For the record: This editorial says the federal Race to the Top grant program pushed states to make students’ test scores count for half or more of a teacher’s performance evaluation. Although the program has encouraged this by awarding its first grants to states that promised to do so, it has not formally required it.
If it weren’t for the work of a team of Times reporters, this information might have remained uselessly locked away. Now that the paper is reporting on the wide disparities among teachers, the public is getting its first glimpse of some surprising findings.