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 “flawed.”
“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.”