Judge invalidates State Board rule on teacher evaluations
A Florida administrative law judge has deemed invalid the State Board of Education's rule tying student test scores to teacher evaluations, based on a flawed rule-making effort. The Florida Education Association challenged the rule this past spring.
"Material procedural flaws, such as those described in this Final Order, taint the resulting rule in its entirety and cannot be cured without starting over and redoing the process," judge John G. Van Laningham wrote in his order, released Wednesday. See the order here.
“This is a huge victory in our battle for fair, reliable and valid evaluations,” FEA president Andy Ford said in a prepared statement. “The State Board of Education and the Department of Education skirted rule-making procedures and exceeded the scope of their authority. It’s time for the state’s education bureaucracy to stop trying to impose its will on teachers and administrators and start having a meaningful dialogue with us to put together a fair evaluation system that is understandable, valid and accepted.”
The FEA noted that the ruling does not invalidate teachers' 2011-12 evaluations. Neither does it eliminate the statutory mandate to use student learning gains as part of a teacher's overall performance rating. It does mean that any proposed rule changes to evaluations for the new school year may not be incorporated.
The SBOE may appeal the ruling in court. It also could try again to rewrite the rule taking into account the problems that Van Laningham detailed in his ruling.