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NEA, FEA file a federal lawsuit over Florida’s teacher evaluation procedure

WASHINGTON - April 16, 2013 - 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 brought by seven accomplished teachers and the local education associations in Alachua, Escambia and Hernando counties. They are bringing suit against the Florida commissioner of education, the State Board of Education and the school boards of those three counties which have implemented the evaluation system to comply with SB 736, passed during the 2011 session of the Florida Legislature.

“This lawsuit highlights the absurdity of the evaluation system that has come about as a result of SB 736,” said FEA President Andy Ford. “Teachers in Florida are being evaluated using a formula designed to measure learning gains in the FCAT math and reading tests. But most teachers, including the seven in this lawsuit, 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.”

“Seven accomplished educators in Florida are pushing back against one arbitrary, irrational and unfair evaluation system,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  “But they are supported by hundreds of thousands of educators across the country who are fed up with flawed evaluation systems being pushed by politicians and corporate education reformers in school districts across the country. As unthinkable as it might seem for a teacher to be evaluated on the performance of students they do not teach or subjects they do not teach -- we know that it’s happening and not just in Florida. NEA is proud to stand with our Florida colleagues to say ‘NO’ to evaluation systems that don’t help improve student learning or the practice of teaching.”

The lawsuit was filed today 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. 

A copy of the federal lawsuit will be posted at bit.ly/1101Hw1

FEA CONTACT: Mark Pudlow 850.201.3223 or 850.508.9756 (Call to arrange interviews with plaintiffs)
NEA CONTACT: Sara Robertson srobertson@nea.org or 202.230.8978

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The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with more than 140,000 members. FEA represents pre K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational support professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.

 

 


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