The National Education Association (NEA) and the Florida Education Association (FEA) filed a federal lawsuit today challenging the evaluation of teachers based on the standardized test scores of students they do not teach or based on subjects they do not teach.
The lawsuit is against the Florida commissioner of education, the State Board of Education and the school boards of those three counties, that have implemented the evaluation system to comply with SB 736, passed during the 2011 session of the Florida Legislature.
FEA President Andy Ford stated, “Teachers are being evaluated using a formula designed to measure learning gains in the FCAT math and reading tests. But most teachers don’t teach those subjects in the grades the test is administered. One of the teachers bringing this suit is getting evaluated on the test scores of students who aren’t even in her school.”
The lawsuit was filed in the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Florida, Gainesville Division. The lawsuit contends that teachers’ evaluations based on the test scores of students they do not teach or based on subjects they do no teach violate the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
These evaluations have high stakes consequences. Teachers who are rated unsatisfactory (the lowest of the four performance ratings under the law) two consecutive years or two out of three years in a row are subject to termination or non-renewal. Transfers, promotions and layoffs are based on the assigned performance rating. And, as of July 1, 2014, salaries will be based on the assigned performance rating as well.