The Houston Federation of Teachers has convinced a federal court that HISD’s former practice of measuring teacher effectiveness through the use of “Value Added Measures” improperly threatened teachers with a deprivation of procedural due process. The district was using complex algorithms, developed by an outside contractor, to calculate the effectiveness of teachers in improving student learning. Each teacher received an EVAAS score (Educational Value-Added Assessment System). However, teachers were not given access to the algorithms because they were deemed proprietary trade secrets.
HISD filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in this case. It was granted with regard to claims of substantive due process and equal protection. But the court emphatically rejected the Motion as it pertains to procedural due process. The court held that the secrecy of the process left the teachers ill equipped to challenge a proposed termination based on “effectiveness.” Key Quote:
On this summary judgment record, HISD teachers have no meaningful way to ensure correct calculation of their EVAAS scores, and as a result are unfairly subject to mistaken deprivation of constitutionally protected property interests in their jobs. HISD is not entitled to summary judgment on this procedural due process claim.
The debate over “Value Added Measures” will no doubt continue, but this case sends a strong message that overly complex, secret formulas that teachers cannot meaningfully challenge will not survive in court.
The case is Houston Federation of Teachers v. Houston ISD, decided by the federal court for the Southern District of Texas on May 4, 2017. You can find it at 2017 WL 1831106.
DAWG BONE: TEACHERS DIDN’T ACTUALLY WIN THIS ONE, BUT THEY PREVENTED THE DISTRICT FROM WINNING. FOR TEACHER ORGANIZATIONS IN TEXAS, THAT COUNTS AS A WIN.
File this one under: TEACHER EVALUATION
Tomorrow: Another “John Doe” case based on student-to-student harassment.