Are Teachers Making the Grade?

Ben Tracy is a CBS News correspondent based in Los Angeles.

As kids, we all remember those dreaded tests. We read our text books, memorized key ideas and phrases, and then hoped we could remember it all when test day arrived.

But what about the teachers giving those tests? How do we know whether they are passing or failing when it comes to doing their jobs?

For the most part, in this country, we don't.

That is because for decades, teacher's unions have fought to not have their performance linked to their student's test scores. They say one day of standardized tests is not a good way to evaluate an entire year of a teacher's work. So, a teacher's job performance is generally assessed by their principal who sits in their classroom once a year (at most) and watches them teach.

Now a growing number of experts and even democrats (who generally have sided with the teacher's unions) are saying we need more accountability. They say test scores may not count for everything, but they do matter because it's one of the only ways to judge how much students are learning.

In our story for our series "Reading, Writing, and Reform," we explore this issue and the debate raging in Los Angeles after the Los Angeles Times posted rankings of teachers online based on their student's test scores. One teacher we talked to was branded a "least effective" teacher. She says the test data is unfair. One parent we talked to says ineffective teachers need to be helped or moved out of the classroom. In the end, they both agreed that it's about the kids.

Watch the video below:

Value of Teacher Evaluations