HISD is being taken to court in a case filed this week over how it evaluates teachers. Seven teachers are part of the suit, which says a controversial (at least to teachers and their unions) value-added system of rating their classroom work is unconstitutional.
The American Federation of Teachers released a statement that described the suit.
"The federal lawsuit states teachers' due process constitutional rights are being violated because the EVAAS system is not an accurate or reliable indicator of teachers' performance and because "a cloak of secrecy" prevents teachers from verifying or challenging their EVAAS score," the statement said. "The suit also contends teachers' equal protection constitutional rights are being violated because the school district directs and/or pressures school administrators to align teachers' instructional practice scores with their EVAAS scores -- two separate evaluation components -- so those with below-average EVAAS scores receive arbitrary, harsher instructional practice scores. The suit also contends that the standards for acceptable growth are arbitrary, vague and constantly being recalibrated."
According to the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Independent School Board okayed its evaluation system for teachers in 2011.
Teachers have actually gotten pink slips based on these scores, the National Education Police Center explains in a report from 2012.
EVAAS produces "value-added" measures for the same teachers that jump around willy-nilly from large and negative to large and positive from year-to-year when neither the general nature of the students nor the nature of the teaching differs across time. In defense of the EVAAS one could note that this is common to all such systems of attributing students' test scores to teachers' actions so that EVAAS might still lay claim to being "most robust and reliable"--since they are all unreliable and who knows what "robust" means?
Unlike many school districts which have the good sense to use these value-added systems for symbolic purposes only ("Look at us; we are getting tough about quality."), Houston actually fired four teachers (three African-American, one Latina) based on their EVAAS scores.
You can take a look at the suit the teachers filed in federal court, below.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.