Findings of Fact: The Importance of Teachers

Finding of Fact

The following “Findings of Fact” were compiled by Plaintiffs to demonstrate the overwhelming evidence presented at trial, by both Plaintiffs and the Defense, supporting the Court’s decision in Vergara v. California to rule unconstitutional the State’s Permanent Employment Statute, Dismissal Statute and “Last In, First Out” Layoff Statute.

Note: The notation “Tr.” refers to a specific place in the trial transcripts. The Court has not yet released the final transcripts to the public; however, when the Court does release the final transcripts to the public, Students Matter will post them to this site and link to them throughout the Findings of Fact.

Teacher quality is the most important in-school factor affecting student success.

  1. 1/27 Tr. at 117:4-11 [Deasy] [stating an effective teacher isn’t “a key” to students’ success, it is “the key[]”];
  2. 1/28 Tr. at 238:14-20 [Deasy] [“The mission of the District is to assure that students learn.  That is the only reason we open our doors in the morning.  Students come to us and we make the promise that they will graduate college and be workforce ready.  In order to do that, the most important factor is a teacher, a highly effective teacher.”];
  3. 1/30 Tr. at 629:22-630:4 [Adam];
  4. 2/3 Tr. at 896:1-5 [Raymond];
  5. 2/4 Tr. at 1024:17-19 [Bhakta];
  6. 2/10 Tr. at 1642:26-1643:3 [DeBose];
  7. 2/11 Tr. at 1676:23-28 [B. Vergara];
  8. 2/11 Tr. at 1693:7-15 [E. Vergara];
  9. 3/6 Tr. at 2785:16-18 [Rothstein] [agreeing that “teachers have an impact on student achievement”];
  10. 3/13 Tr. at 3413:9-13 [S. Brown] [agreeing that teachers are “one of the most important elements in student achievement”];
  11. 3/18 Tr. at 3848:12-27 [Berliner] [agreeing that teachers are usually the “in-school factor with the most powerful effect on student achievement” and “teachers can have a powerful impact on student achievement”];
  12. Pls. Ex. 289 at P0289-3 [CDE Report] [“[T]eacher quality is the single most important school-related factor in student success.  Ample research supports this principle.”];
  13. Pls. Ex. 327 at P0327-6 [CDE Publication] [“The academic success of California’s diverse students is inextricably tied to the quality and commitment of our educator workforce.”];
  14. SD Ex. 1005 at S1005-005 [California Standards of the Teaching Profession] [“A growing body of research confirms that the quality of teaching is what matters most for students’ development and learning in schools.”].

Some teachers are more effective at achieving student learning gains than other teachers.  The terms “effective,” “ineffective,” and “grossly ineffective” (or “highly ineffective”) refer to a teacher’s ability to achieve student learning gains.

  1. 1/30 Tr. at 636:8-636:11 [Adam] [“[W]hen you use a variety of measures and you look at student growth over time, we have still been able to see that some teachers are more effective than others . . . .”];
  2. 2/6 Tr. at 1415:6-12 [Weaver] [“[W]e have some teachers who are very effective . . . and some who really struggled to get kids to learn, and people all in between.”];
  3. 2/18 Tr. at 2195:3-6 [Johnson] [agreeing that “some teachers are more effective than others in equalizing opportunities and success for disadvantaged students”];
  4. 3/6 Tr. at 2790:25-2791:1 [Rothstein] [acknowledging there are teachers who are more effective than other teachers at raising student learning gains];
  5. 3/18 Tr. at 3852:17-26 [Berliner] [agreeing that teachers vary in effectiveness].

Students of effective teachers are more likely to succeed in school than students of ineffective or grossly ineffective teachers.

  1. 1/29 Tr. at 496:15-21 [Chetty] [“[W]hen children have highly ineffective teachers, when unfortunately due to bad luck, they’re assigned to a highly ineffective teacher, for whatever reason they end up with a highly ineffective teacher, they learn significantly less . . . .”];
  2. 1/30 Tr. at 527:11-529:13 [Chetty];
  3. 2/6 Tr. at 1258:19-26 [Kane] [“ [T]eachers identified as more effective . . . cause greater student achievement to happen”];
  4. 2/6 Tr. at 1280:15-20 [Kane] [“[T]he students assigned to teachers in the bottom 25 percent lost 3.1 months of student learning relative to students assigned to the average teacher . . . [T]he difference between the top 25 percent and the bottom 25 percent is . . . 7.6 months.”];
  5. 2/6 Tr. at 1316:2-1319:9 [Kane];
  6. 2/6 Tr. at 1417:16-1419:17 [Weaver];
  7. 3/24 Tr. at 4372:3-25 [Hanushek] [the losses imposed on students by grossly ineffective teachers can never be made up because “the losses are cumulative”];
  8. Pls. Ex. 236 [CDE Presentation] [“The difference between an effective and non-effective teacher can be one full level of achievement in a single school year.”].

A single grossly ineffective teacher can leave students significantly behind their peers, a loss of learning from which they may never recover.

  1. 1/29 Tr. at 468:27-469:6 [Chetty] [“[B]eing assigned to a highly ineffective teacher generates significant harm for students in the long-term.”];
  2. 1/29 Tr. at 495:25-496:21 [Chetty] [“[W]hen unfortunately due to bad luck, [students are] assigned to a highly ineffective teacher, for whatever reason they end up with a highly ineffective teacher, they learn significantly less . . . .”];
  3. 2/6 Tr. at 1318:13-19 [Kane] [“[B]eing assigned to a fifth percentile teacher means I lose 11.73 or almost a whole year’s worth of learning relative to the students assigned to the average teacher.”];
  4. 3/18 Tr. at 3850:6-21 [Berliner] [agreeing that one “teacher can have a negative impact on [a] child . . . [that] may stick with the child for years . . . .”];
  5. 3/20 Tr. at 4141:5-18 [Darling-Hammond] [agreeing that a “student who is assigned an incompetent teacher for even one year could suffer harm in terms of not having the building blocks he needs for the rest of his life”];
  6. 3/24 Tr. at 4372:3-25 [Hanushek] [disagreeing with the assertion that the harm of a grossly ineffective teacher can be offset by a highly effective teacher in a subsequent year];
  7. Pls. Ex. 236 at P0236-1 [CDE Power Point] [The “difference between an effective and non-effective teacher can be one full level of achievement in a single school year.”].

Teacher effectiveness influences long-term student outcomes, including the likelihood that a child will attend university, the quality of the university that the child will attend, the amount of the child’s future earnings, the likelihood of the child becoming pregnant as a teenager, the quality of the neighborhood in which the child will live, and the amount the child will save for retirement.

  1. 1/30 Tr. at 510:28-511:14 [Chetty] [“[T]eacher[s] ha[ve] longer term impacts on outcomes we ultimately care about from education, like attending college, like earnings, like teenage pregnancy.”];
  2. 2/6 Tr. at 1259:25-1260:1 [Kane] [“Teachers have long-term effects on not only student achievement but student earnings as well.”];
  3. 2/11 Tr. at 1714:10-16 [Monterroza] [“[H]aving a good education basically sets you up to be successful in the future.”];
  4. Pls. Ex. 327 [CDE Report] [“[T]he costs of inadequate instruction are shown by the billions of dollars . . . [including] the enormous costs to society of dropouts who are much less likely to be employed and much more likely to be incarcerated when they leave school without a diploma.]

Students of effective teachers are more likely to succeed outside of school than students of ineffective or grossly ineffective teachers.

  1. 1/30 Tr. at 529:14–530:25 [Chetty] [teenage pregnancy];
  2. 1/30 Tr. at 530:26–531:18 [Chetty] [neighborhood quality];
  3. 1/30 Tr. at 518:11-13, 532:16–534:17 [Chetty] [“Teacher effectiveness significantly increases students’ earnings.  If you are assigned to a highly effective teacher, you earn more as an adult.”] [earnings];
  4. 1/30 Tr. at 513:23–517:17 [Chetty] [“[I]mproved teacher effectiveness increases the probability that students attend college.”] [college attendance];
  5. 1/30 Tr. at 531:22-26 [Chetty] [“If you are assigned to a highly effective teacher, you are more likely to be saving for retirement in the form of a 401(k) when you are 28 years old relative to if you are assigned to a highly infective teacher.”];
  6. 3/6 Tr. at 2790:21-2791:1 [Rothstein] [agreeing that “some teachers who are ineffective at accomplishing student learning gains can have negative impacts in terms of the life outcomes of their students . . . [r]elative to other teachers who are more effective . . . .”];
  7. 3/20 Tr. at 4141:5-18 [Darling-Hammond] [agreeing that a “student who is assigned an incompetent teacher for even one year could suffer harm in terms of not having the building blocks he needs for the rest of his life”].

Factors other than teacher quality, e.g., family income, family relations, and neighborhood characteristics, impact student achievement.  However, the mere existence of such factors does not diminish the importance of teacher effectiveness.

  1. 1/27 Tr. at 116:10-13 [Deasy] [“[T]here are many factors that come to bear on a student in school.  The one that is the most significant in success is the quality of instruction.”];
  2. 2/6 Tr. at 1415:16-1416:5 [Weaver] [“[M]y job is to be effective, to make sure that the students with me, regardless of how they come to me, regardless of all kind of situations kids have . . . [that] they . . . make a year’s worth of growth by the time they leave . . . .”];
  3. 2/18 Tr. at 2173:12-18 [Johnson] [admitting that “teachers are the most important school level factor affecting student learning.”];
  4. 3/13 Tr. at 3416:2-5 [S. Brown] [agreeing that the challenges faced by high-risk kids outside of school and the retention of ineffective teachers in classrooms are “separate issues”];
  5. 3/24 Tr. at 4443:3-16 [Hanushek] [“Every study that we’ve ever done suggests that there are many influences on student achievement, that families are very important and students are very important, but they also indicate that teachers can have a huge impact.”];
  6. 3/24 Tr. at 4479:19-27 [Smith] [“There are conditions outside of schools that make it more or less difficult to get into and out of that school, but the life and experience inside the school has to be first, foremost, and always about the exchange between the teacher and the student and creating the conditions for an effective teacher to be working deeply with children.  That’s our job.  And every single school in California has to have that . . . . [T]here are intense needs [and] we need to ensure that there are effective teachers in those classrooms.  Yeah, I think it’s hard, and we must do it . . . . [T]he conditions are real, but our need to serve those kids is ever greater . . . .”];
  7. Pls. Ex. 289 at P0289-9 [CDE Report] [“Research conducted for more than two decades has unequivocally demonstrated that when it comes to academic success, teacher quality is what matters most!”];
  8. Pls. Ex. 289 at P0289-16 [CDE Report] [“[D]ifferential teacher effectiveness is a strong determinant of differences in student learning, far outweighing the effects of differences in class size and heterogeneity.”];
  9. SD Ex. 1005 at S1005-005 [California Standards of the Teaching Profession] [“A growing body of research confirms that the quality of teaching is what matters most for students’ development and learning in schools.”].

Teacher effectiveness—defined as the ability of a teacher to achieve gains in student learning—can be assessed and measured.

  1. 1/29 Tr. at 453:11-14 [Chetty] [“We are able to construct accurate measures of teacher effectiveness, teachers’ impacts on test scores using these value-added measures.”];
  2. 1/30 Tr. at 527:11-529:13 [Chetty];
  3. 2/3 Tr. at 896:6-897:4 [Raymond];
  4. 2/6 Tr. at 1248:19-23 [Kane] [“[I]t is possible to implement systematic and replicable measures of teacher effectiveness.”];
  5. 3/18 Tr. at 3874:17-3875:2 [Berliner] [agrees that principals can identify their top and bottom teachers];
  6. Pls. Ex. 327 at P0327-5 [CDE Report] [“[T]here can be no honest assessment of a teacher’s performance without considering what students have learned.”].

School districts can use multiple measures to assess teacher effectiveness, including standardized tests and other objective measures of student performance, systemic and replicable teacher observations, and student surveys.

  1. 1/27 Tr. at 117:11-12, 118:23-119:6 [Deasy];
  2. 1/30 Tr. at 634:13-634:23 [Adam];
  3. 2/3 Tr. at 896-897:4 [Raymond];
  4. 2/6 Tr. at 1268:14-1271:17, 1275:4-12 [Kane];
  5. 2/18 Tr. at 2178:8-18 [Johnson] [“[I] believe that it is possible to measure a teacher’s effectiveness using multiple observations, looking at students work, looking at student achievement outcomes, and looking at peer assessments.”];
  6. 3/18 Tr. at 3833:13-3834:14 [Berliner].

Value-added methodology and standardized tests are useful tools that, among other tools, can be used to measure teacher effectiveness.

  1. 1/30 Tr. at 542:21-543:9 [Chetty] [“[T]his is direct evidence that in fact teachers’ value-added estimates do not depend on the students assigned to them.  When [teachers] switch to different schools, you continue to predict their impacts accurately.”];
  2. 2/18 Tr. at 2178:8-18 [Johnson] [“Student test scores should be used in assessing teacher effectiveness to confirm other means of assessing a teacher’s performance.”];
  3. 3/7 Tr. at 2852:16-21 [Rothstein] [“Value added studies allow us to put a number on things that are not inherently numeric.”];
  4. 3/12 Tr. at 3232:17-22 [Seymour] [testifying that students’ test scores are an important component in assessing what students have learned];
  5. 3/18 Tr. at 3877:7-10 [Berliner] [agreeing that “standardized tests can tell us something about what a teacher has taught his or her students”];
  6. 3/19 Tr. at 4063:14-21 [Futernick] [agreeing that determinations of teacher effectiveness should include evidence of student learning];
  7. 3/20 Tr. at 4253:6-14 [Darling-Hammond] [“One indicator of whether a given teacher is effective is the accomplishment of his or her students, including how well they do on tests.”];
  8. 3/24 Tr. at 4356:8-4368:13 [Hanushek] [refuting State Defendants’ and Intervenors’ criticisms of value-added methodology].

School districts can identify ineffective and grossly ineffective teachers, provided that they have sufficient time and information to do so.

  1. 1/27 Tr. at 114:3-13 [Deasy];
  2. 1/30 Tr. at 510:4-12 [Chetty];
  3. 2/3 Tr. at 895:15-18 [Raymond];
  4. 2/6 Tr. at 1316:2-1319:9 [Kane].

There are ineffective and grossly ineffective teachers teaching in California school districts.

  1. 1/30 Tr. at 639.2-25 [Adam];
  2. 2/7 Tr. at 1493:1-21 [Moss];
  3. 2/10 Tr. at 1553:23-1559:21 [Pulley];
  4. 2/11 Tr. at 1671:1-25 [B. Vergara];
  5. 3/6 Tr. at 2787:8-17 [Rothstein];
  6. 3/12 Tr. at 3303:27-3304:4 [Olson-Jones];
  7. Pls. Ex. 318 at No. 3 [Intervenors admit that “California public school districts currently employ teachers who are ineffective . . . .”];
  8. Pls. Ex. 319 at No. 3 [CDE, SBE, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson “admit[] that some CALIFORNIA SCHOOL DISTRICTS currently employ INEFFECTIVE teachers.”].

There are at least 2,750 to 8,250 grossly ineffective teachers in California, possibly many more.

  1. 1/28 Tr. at 224:20-225:11 [Deasy] [“[T]he Commission on Professional Competence ordered the dismissal of only 3 teachers in the 2010-2011 school year or 0.01 percent of the approximately 28,497 teachers employed by the district.  During the 2010-2011 school year, significantly more than 0.01 percent of the teachers that [LAUSD] employed were ineffective or grossly ineffective.”];
  2. 1/29 Tr. at 484:1-12 [Chetty] [“[T]he threshold we focus on is teachers in the bottom 5 percent of the distribution of effectiveness, and as a simple terminology, we are calling those teachers highly ineffective teachers.”];
  3. 2/6 Tr. at 1319:10-21 [Kane] [using the bottom five percent of teachers as the baseline for a study on the distribution of effectiveness in LAUSD];
  4. 3/18 Tr. at 3884:25-3885:4 [Berliner] [estimating that approximately “1 to 3 percent” of teachers “consistently have strong negative effects on student outcomes no matter what classroom and school compositions they deal with . . . .”];
  5. 3/24 Tr. at 4367:15-4368:13 [Hanushek] [describing a study in which Dr. Hanushek analyzed the effect of replacing the bottom five percent of teachers—i.e., those deemed to be grossly ineffective teachers—with teachers of average effectiveness].

In LAUSD—California’s largest school district—students taught by teachers in the bottom five percent of effectiveness lose approximately 9.5 months of learning in English-Language Arts and approximately 11.7 months of learning in mathematics in a single year relative to students taught by teachers of average effectiveness.  This disparity in learning gains in LAUSD is far more substantial than the disparity in learning gains that has been found elsewhere in the country.

  1. 1/27 Tr. at 108:22-23:18-23 [Deasy] [“There [are] 909,000 students [in LAUSD] . . . in approximately 1,031 schools.”];
  2. 2/6 Tr. at 1316:26-1317:3, 1318:13-19 [Kane] [describing statistical analysis];
  3. 2/6 Tr. at 1314:5-1319:9 [Kane] [“[T]he impact on students of being assigned to an ineffective teacher is nearly twice as large in LAUSD than . . . in New York City . . . [W]e found that there were differences in the achievement of students assigned to more and less-effective teachers and that those differences were generally larger than we have seen in other districts where we’ve studied similar measures.”].

In order to obtain a clear teaching credential in California, teachers must, among other things, complete a two-year “induction” process, which requires teachers to participate in classroom observations, demonstration lessons, and a formative assessment.

  1. 3/10 Tr. at 3323:12-19, 3328:15-3329:3 [Clark];
  2. 3/13 Tr. at 3381:24-3382:24 [S. Brown].

California’s teaching credential requirements do not ensure that all of the teachers who obtain teaching credentials in California are effective.

  1. 2/3 Tr. at 900:25-901:7 [Raymond] [“[A] credential only enables [an] individual to get in a classroom . . . [I]t has nothing to do with whether or not they are effective or ineffective.”];
  2. 3/19 Tr. at 4034:3-6 [Futernick] [“Credentials don’t guarantee that someone will be effective no more than a license to practice law or practice medicine guarantees that one will be an effective lawyer or physician.”];
  3. 3/20 Tr. at 4260:12-15 [Darling-Hammond] [holding a teaching credential “does not guarantee that a teacher will be effective.”].

Some teachers in California are misassigned, i.e., they are placed in a teaching or services position for which they do not hold a credential.   However, no credible evidence was presented at trial regarding how often teacher misassignment occurs in California.  Furthermore, there is no credible evidence in the record that teacher misassignment necessarily harms student achievement, or that properly assigned teachers are necessarily effective.

  1. 3/17 Tr. at 3760:21-3761:2 [Purdue] [CTC data related to teacher misassignments is “all over the ballpark.”];
  2. 3/18 Tr. at 3934:10-14 [State Defendants’ counsel] [“The Court: [T]he fact that a teacher may be rated highly qualified . . . doesn’t necessarily make them effective for purposes of this litigation; right?  [State Defendants’ Counsel]: Nothing necessarily makes a teacher effective in any capacity . . . .”];
  3. 3/19 Tr. at 4059:26-4060:4 [Futernick] [“A misassigned teacher can be effective at achieving student learning gains, while a properly assigned teacher can be ineffective at achieving student learning gains.”];
  4. 3/19 Tr. at 3961:21-3962:22 [Nichols] [No Child Left Behind Act requirements “ha[ve] helped California to clean up teacher misassignments in [the] state.”];
  5. 3/19 Tr. at 3971:12-17 [Nichols] [stating it is unlikely that all teachers who are credentialed in the state are effective];
  6. 3/20 Tr. at 4260:12-15 [Darling-Hammond] [agreeing that “holding a credential does not guarantee that a teacher will be effective”].

Grossly ineffective teachers in California cause substantial harm to the students they teach.

  1. 1/28 Tr. at 201:6-9 [Deasy];
  2. 1/30 Tr. at 529:5-13 [Chetty] [a single grossly ineffective teacher reduces the lifetime earning capacity of a single classroom by $1.4 million.];
  3. 1/30 Tr. at 530:15-18 [Chetty] [“[I]f you are assigned to a highly ineffective teacher, a child’s chances of having a teenage pregnancy are significantly higher.”];
  4. 1/30 Tr. at 535:2-7 [Chetty] [“[R]etirement savings, if you are assigned to a highly ineffective teacher instead of a highly effective teacher, are about 1 1/2 percentage points lower relative to a base of 20 percent, so about a 5 percent reduction in retirement savings at age 28.”];
  5. 2/7 Tr. at 1493:22-1494:24 [Moss];
  6. 2/10 Tr. at 1645:11-17 [DeBose] [“[A]t that age, you know, if you are being told [that you will not amount to anything] by someone who is supposed to teach you, it can really, you know, dig into you as a person because that’s somebody who has total authority over you at that time.”];
  7. 2/18 Tr. at 2174:27-2175:4 [Johnson] [agrees that “[g]rossly ineffective teachers harm students.”];
  8. 3/6 Tr. at 2790:21-2791:1 [Rothstein];
  9. 3/12 Tr. at 3304:5-11 [Olson-Jones];
  10. 3/18 Tr. at 3850:6-21 [Berliner];
  11. 3/18 Tr. at 3864:24-27 [Berliner] [supports the “dismissal of bad teachers because bad teachers hurt children’s life chances”];
  12. 3/20 Tr. at 4240:1-9 [Darling-Hammond] [“Each case” of unaddressed teacher incompetence harms “hundreds of students.”];
  13. Pls. Ex. 236 at P0236-1 [CDE Power Point] [The “difference between an effective and non-effective teacher can be one full level of achievement in a single school year.”];
  14. Pls. Ex. 289 at P0298-16 [CDE Publication] [“Students who are assigned to a succession of ineffective teachers have significantly lower achievement and gains in achievement than do those who are assigned to a succession of highly effective teachers.”].