LA Times up to the Same Old Antics

The Los Angeles Times has made it in its own news, again, for its controversial open public records request soliciting the student test scores of all Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) teachers. They have done this repeatedly since 2011 — the first time the Los Angeles Times hired external contractors to calculate LAUSD teachers’ value-added scores, so that they could publish the teachers’ value-added scores on their Los Angeles Teacher Ratings website. They have also done this, repeatedly since 2011, despite the major research-based issues (see for example a National Education Policy Center (NEPC) analysis that followed; see also a recent/timely post about this on another blog at techcrunch.com).

This time, the Los Angeles Times is charging that the district is opposed to all of this because it wants to keep the data “secret?” How about being opposed to this because doing this is just plain wrong?!

This is an ongoing source of frustration for me since the authors of the initial articles and the creators of the searchable website (Jason Felch and Jason Strong) contacted me back in 2011 regarding whether what they were doing was appropriate, valid, and fair. Despite my strong warnings, research-based apprehensions, and cautionary notes, Felch and Song thanked me for my time and moved forward.

It became apparent to me soon thereafter, that I was merely a pawn in their media game, so that they could ultimately assert that: “The Times shared [what they did] with leading researchers, including skeptics of value added methods, and incorporated their input.” While they did not incorporate any of my input, not one bit, and as far as I could tell any of the input they might have garnered from any of the other skeptics of value added methods with whom they claimed to have spoken, this claim became particularly handy when they were to defend themselves and their actions when the Los Angeles Times, Ethics and Standards board stepped in, on their behalves.

While I wrote words of detest in response to their “Ethics and Standards” post back then, the truth of the matter was, and still is, is that what they continue to do at theĀ Los Angeles Times has literally nothing to do with the current VAM-based research. It is based on “research” only if one defines research as a far-removed action involving far-removed statisticians crunching numbers as part of a monetary contract.

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