TEA files second value-added lawsuit this week

The state’s largest association for teachers filed a second lawsuit on behalf of a Knox County teacher, calling the use of the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS), which uses students’ growth on state assessments to evaluate teachers, unconstitutional.

Farragut Middle School eighth grade science teacher Mark Taylor believes he was unfairly denied a bonus after his value-added estimate was based on the standardized test scores of 22 of his 142 students. “Mr. Taylor teaches four upper-level physical science courses and one regular eighth grade science class,” said Richard Colbert, TEA general counsel, in a press release. “The students in the upper-level course take a locally developed end-of-course test in place of the state’s TCAP assessment. As a result, those high-performing students were not included in Mr. Taylor’s TVAAS estimate.”

Taylor received ‘exceeding expectations’ classroom observation scores, but a low value-added estimate reduced his final evaluation score below the requirement to receive the bonus.

The lawsuit includes six counts against the governor, commissioner and local school board.

TEA’s general counsel argues the state has violated Taylor’s 14th Amendment right to equal protection from “irrational state-imposed classifications” by using a small fraction of his students to determine his overall effectiveness. 

TEA filed its first TVAAS lawsuit last month on behalf of Knox County teacher Lisa Trout, who was denied the district’s bonus. The lawsuit also cites the arbitrariness of TVAAS estimates that use test results of only a small segment of a teacher’s students to estimate her overall effectiveness.

TEA says it expects additional lawsuits to be filed so long as the state continues to tie more high-stakes decisions to TVAAS estimates.