“Students Matter” Sues 13 California Districts for Not Using Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers
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“Students Matter,” the Silicon Valley-funded group that launched the Vergara lawsuit to block teacher tenure in California, is now suing 13 school districts for their failure to use test scores in evaluating teachers.
The goal is to compel the entire state to use value-added-modeling (VAM), despite the fact that experience and research have demonstrated its invalidity and lack of reliability.
The Southern California school systems named in the latest filing are El Monte City, Inglewood Unified, Chaffey Joint Union, Chino Valley Unified, Ontario-Montclair, Saddleback Valley Unified, Upland Unified and Victor Elementary District. The others are: Fairfield-Suisun Unified, Fremont Union, Pittsburg Unified; San Ramon Valley Unified and Antioch Unified.
“School districts are not going to get away with bargaining away their ability to use test scores to evaluate teachers,” said attorney Joshua S. Lipshutz, who is working on behalf of Students Matter. “That’s a direct violation of state law.”
The plaintiffs are six California residents, including some parents and teachers, three of whom are participating anonymously.
In all, the districts serve about 250,000 students, although the group’s goal is to compel change across California.
“The impact is intended to be statewide, to show that no school district is above the law,” Lipshutz said.
The plaintiffs are not asking the courts to determine how much weight test scores should be given in a performance review, Lipshutz said. He cited research, however, suggesting that test scores should account for 30% to 40% of an evaluation.
The current case, Doe vs. Antioch, builds on earlier litigation involving the Los Angeles Unified School District. In 2012, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that the school system had to include student test scores in teacher evaluations. But the judge also allowed wide latitude for negotiation between the union and district.
The court decision was based on the 1971 Stull Act, which set out rules for teacher evaluations. Many districts had failed for decades to comply with it, according to some experts.
Will the Silicon Valley billionaires help to find new teachers when the state faces massive teacher shortages based on the litigation they continue to file?