That's because hundreds of teachers considered competent last semester have now been branded ineffective by The Times' "Grading the Teachers" project, which rated 6,000 elementary school instructors based on their students' progress on California standards exams.
"Now parents will be requesting other teachers whose scores are a bit better than the teacher who is currently teaching their child," fretted fifth-grade teacher Anna M. Donskoy, rated "more effective than average" in The Times' assessment.
"They will stand in line in the office crying and raising their voices," she said. "And they will be frustrated, just like the principal who will have to deal with them and the office staff who will have to calm them down."
It was clear from comments like hers that the rankings cut deep.
A "public stoning," one teacher called it. She was among those we labeled "most effective," but also among teachers laid off by the school district last year.
"Mean spirited and demoralizing" complained another, a 32-year classroom veteran branded "least effective" by The Times' process.
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And a "less effective than average" fifth-grade teacher pointed out that "name calling never amounts to much, whether it takes place in an elementary school classroom or within the pages of a newspaper."
Researchers and Times reporters analyzed data on 6,000 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers in LAUSD, then invited them to preview their rankings and post comments. About a third asked to see their scores, and 300 filed responses.
Scrolling through their comments is like eavesdropping in the teachers' lunch room. Their angst, confusion, hurt feelings and relief reveal as much about our teaching corps as the "value-added" scores assigned to them.
Some were grateful for the information, if not the exposure.
"I've been teaching for 20 years, and this is the first time I've gotten an idea of how my students have fared in my classroom and how I am doing as a teacher," wrote Sujata Duggal Landon, a "most effective" second- and third-grade teacher.
Many teachers with subpar ratings displayed a gratifying determination to, as one wrote, "step it up."
"Making such OBJECTIVE value-added info public will spur competitive people such as myself to work twice as hard," wrote Andre Noble, an "average" teacher with a classroom of fourth- and fifth-graders.
Second-grade teacher Juan Antonio Rodriguez "felt shocked, incredulous, saddened, embarrassed and disappointed upon seeing" his average score. "However, the bottom line is that none of this was the fault of [my] students. They deserve better.... This will certainly make me look deeper into my teaching practices."
But many others defended their performance and challenged The Times' calculations.
"I DO NOT appreciate the LA Times implying, with their 'less effective' ranking, that I was negligent in tending to my students' education," wrote Nam Phuong Pho, who listed years of test scores showing that her fifth-graders "hover in English and gain in math."