Apr 17, 2013 11:58 AM EDT

Florida Teachers File Lawsuit Over Rating System

Seven Florida teachers have brought a federal lawsuit to protest job evaluation policies that ties teacher salaries to job performance, measured in part by standardized test scores.

The suit, which was filed Tuesday in conjunction with three local affiliates of the National Education Association in Federal District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Gainesville, says Florida's two-year-old evaluation system violates teachers' rights of due process and equal protection.

The union, the Florida Education Association, and seven Florida teachers alleged the 2011 law violates their due process and equal protection rights under the In at least one case, Kim Cook, the lead plaintiff, said the students in question don't attend her school. Cook, a first-grade teacher at Irby Elementary School in Alachua, northwest of Gainesville, claims in the complaint that her rating last year was based partially on those of fourth- and fifth-graders at nearby Alachua Elementary School who'd attended Irby.

But since classes at Irby go only through first grade and Cook arrived at Irby last year, she didn't teach any of the Alachua students whose test scores are part of her job evaluation.

U.S. Constitution because their grades are based on the test results of students they didn't teach, according to a complaint filed Tuesday in Gainesville federal court.

Under a 2011 law, schools and districts must evaluate teachers in part based on how much their students learn, as measured by standardized tests. But since Florida, like most states, administers only math and reading tests and only in selected grades, many teachers do not teach tested subjects. 

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