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State Teachers Association Files Lawsuit To Block New Teacher Evaluation System

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The Texas State Teachers Association filed a lawsuit today (Wednesday) seeking to block the implementation of a new teacher evaluation system.

The lawsuit, filed in state district court in Travis County, is against Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, according to a news release.

The evaluation system in question is called the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System, or T-TESS, and is scheduled to take effect July 1.

T-TESS replaces the previous state recommended Professional Development Appraisal System.

The Texas State Teacher’s Association is asserting that the new appraisal system violates state law. It would require school districts to base at least 20 percent of the teacher’s evaluation on “student growth measures, which could include value added measures.

A value added model is based on a formula that compares student test scores to the scores predicted by a mathematical target based on standardized test scores of similar student populations, according to the release.

The Teacher’s Association says the law requires that an appraisal system be based on “observable, job-related behavior.” But a value added model is not “observable.”

“Commissioner Morath’s appraisal system clearly violates state law because he doesn’t have the authority to substitute a confusing, test-based statistical formula for the work teachers and students actually do in their classrooms,” Texas State Teacher Association President Noel Candelaria said. “Teachers are not robots, and their performance should be evaluated by an easily understood, transparent system that helps them perfect their job performance.”

Candelaria went on to say, “Let’s be clear. Educators’ compensation and jobs are potentially on the line here, and their work must be evaluated fairly – and legally.”

Texas Public Radio has put in a call to the TEA and requested an interview with Morath.  We have not yet heard back with any response.