Florida court rules in favor of test-based teacher evaluation
- On Wednesday, a federal appeals court upheld Florida’s teacher evaluation law, which ties teachers’ scores to student performance data.
- The case was brought by seven Florida teachers and an alliance of teacher unions who alleged that the law violated teachers’ civil rights, but the three appeals court judges ruled that the controversial law was intended to boost student performance and did not violate their rights.
- It’s not clear whether the unions will change course or continue their legal battle.
In an increasing number of states, teacher evaluations have been tied to student performance data. Florida’s law has proven to be one of the most controversial, thanks in part to the use of a complicated “value-added” formula that measures how much an individual teacher’s students grew year over year compared to similar students. Value-added formulas are in use in numerous other states, as well, though how exactly they work varies from one location to another.
As the practice has spread, similar lawsuits to Florida’s have cropped up in states like Texas and New York. Even though judges ruled in favor of the law in Texas, they drew attention to the potential flaws of the value-added model. “Without a doubt, the evaluation scheme has led to some unfair results,” the Texas ruling stated.
Lawmakers have also rectified some of the issues the teachers’ lawsuit raised. For example, teachers’ performance ratings are now based on the scores of the students they teach, whereas before they could include the scores of students from outside their classroom. But the value-added component remains at the core of the evaluations.