Tennessee Teacher Sues Gov. Haslam, Commissioner Huffman Over Tying Pay to Test Scores

In August of 2013, the Tennessee Education Association tried to keep the state board of education from giving final approval to a plan linking license renewal to student achievement data. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

In August of 2013, the Tennessee Education Association tried to keep the state board of education from giving final approval to a plan linking license renewal to student achievement data. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Tennessee’s largest teacher union is suing the governor and state’s education commissioner over the use of student assessment tests increasingly tied to pay decisions.

The suit is part of the union’s larger strategy to kill the practice before it becomes more widely adopted.

It is the second such lawsuit the union has filed this month, but the first against top state officials.

The lawsuit claims that an eighth grade science teacher in Knoxville didn’t get a bonus based on the test scores of just 16 percent of his students.

The teacher is represened by the Tennessee Education Association. They say that the teacher’s situation is not unusual. They claim that educators across the state are being evaluated on an arbitrary sample of their students.

The system used to measure teacher effectiveness has been around for decades. Though state officials just started using the data in some places to determine pay and bonuses for teachers

“This second lawsuit includes the governor and commissioner because this really is a state issue,” said Gera Summerford, who leads the teachers’ union. “State policy has forced an over-reliance on flawed” student tests.

The TEA said to expect more suits.

A Haslam spokesman declined to comment on the pending litigation.

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