A state Supreme Court judge in Albany ruled on a lawsuit over the new teacher-evaluation system today, saying in a decision that student growth data on state tests can’t be used for 40 percent of an evaluation.
New York State United Teachers sued the state Education Department over certain aspects of the new regulations, including the Board of Regents’ decision to count student growth on state tests for up to 40 percent of the evaluation. Regents originally called for 20 percent of the total to come from state assessments and another 20 percent from locally developed measures, subject to collective bargaining.
Regents said when they approved the regulations in May that to “up to 40 percent” language gives more flexibility to school districts and could save money.
Justice Michael Lynch, who heard oral arguments Aug. 12, noted that the regulations do not prevent school districts from using other data that uses a “distinctly different measure of student achievement” for the second 20 percent. They will have to be developed locally through the collective-bargaining process, he wrote.
“To allow the use of the same ‘student growth data’ utilized in the first 20 percent category for the second 20 percent category conflicts with the statutory mandate that the annual review produces a ‘single composite teacher or principal effectiveness score, which incorporates multiple measures of effectiveness related to the criteria included in the regulations of the commissioner,” Lynch’s decision said.
The judge also wrote that Regents and the state Education Department cannot prescribe that a certain portion — two-thirds — of the remaining 60 points have to be based on classroom observations and no more than 5 points on evidence that teachers set and pursue professional growth goals. He said those aspects of the regulations are invalid.
Also invalid is the part of the regulations that would result in a teacher’s being evaluated as “ineffective” solely based on the results of one student test. Teachers who receive composite scores under 65 would be deemed “ineffective.”
NYSUT officials have emphasized that they want some changes to the implementation of the new system and do not want to prevent it from taking effect.