MARTINEZ, Calif. — A California Superior Court judge has ruled
against the petition of Students Matter to order districts to include
the test scores of students as part of the criteria used in the
evaluation of teachers.
According to edsource.org, Contra Costa County Superior Court
Judge Barry P. Goode sided with the 13 California school districts
named as defendants by Students Matter in the case of Doe vs Antioch
the previous year, as reported on edsource.org. According to the
organization, the districts failed to comply with the provisions of
the Stull Act. In particular, Students Matter pointed out that one of
the factors that should be included in the teachers’ evaluation is
the test scores of their students.
The districts that were sued by the group included the Antioch
Unified, Chaffey Joint Union High School District, and Chino Valley
Unified. They also named the El Monte Unified, Fairfield-Suisun
Unified, Fremont Union High School District, Inglewood Unified,
Ontario-Montclair, Pittsburg Unified, Saddleback Valley Unified, San
Ramon Valley Unified, Upland, and Victor Elementary School District.
Based on the petition of Students Matter, the test scores to be
used in the evaluation of the teachers will be those obtained from
the standardized tests given by the state. The group sought to have
those evaluations considered as “summative” and called to have
them bear significance on the future of the teachers. They pointed
out that the public school teachers must be evaluated based on fair
and meaningful standards. With this in mind, they asserted that the
test scores would be a good factor in measuring the progress of the
students. In turn, the students’ performance in these tests should
be considered as a reflection of their teachers’ effectiveness.
However, the Superior Court disagreed.
According to the California court, the organization failed to
properly understand the Stull Act. Goode pointed out in the ruling
that the language of the cited law was “not crystalline.” Based
on the court’s interpretation of the provisions, he stressed that
the districts are granted the full discretion when it comes to the
application of the education code. Hence, Students Matter could not
force the defendants to interpret the law in the way they believe it
should be implemented.
“Petitioners argue vigorously that the quality of education
would be improved if a school district were required to evaluate a
teacher in a 'summative assessment with consequences' based on her
pupil’s performance on standardized tests. But that does not answer
the question of whether the Legislature wrote that policy into law,”
Goode wrote in the ruling.
Meanwhile, the organization slammed the court for its decision on
the matter. In a news
release published in Students Matter’s
official website, the group described the ruling in Doe v. Antioch as
“The goal of teaching is for students to learn. In order to
evaluate whether a teacher is effective, school districts must
evaluate whether that teacher’s students are learning,” Marcellus
McRae and Joshua S. Lipshutz of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, who are
the lead co-counsels in the case, said in the release. “As the
Legislature recognized in passing the Stull Act, a teacher evaluation
that ignores student learning is a farce that serves neither students
nor teachers. Today’s decision ignores this basic and indisputable
logic and renders the Stull Act meaningless.”