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New Calif. Lawsuit Seeks to Compel Use of Tests in Teacher Evaluation

From the team that brought you the Vergara v. California lawsuit comes a new legal challenge aimed at forcing districts to follow a 1999 state law requiring the use of tests scores to evaluate their teachers.

The lawsuit, filed by advocacy group Students Matter in state Superior Court on July 16, contends that more than a dozen districts in the state have inked collective bargaining agreements prohibiting the use of test scores. Those agreements, the suit charges, directly contravene state law, which requires "pupil progress" on tests as one component of teacher evaluations.

The 13 districts named educate some 250,000 students.

In 2012, another group sued—and eventually reached an agreement with—the Los Angeles district to compel usage of the scores.    

Complicating matters: Key figures in the state, including Gov. Jerry Brown and the chairwoman of the state's teacher-credentialing board, Linda Darling-Hammond, generally oppose test-based accountability. In addition, the state and the California Teachers Association have struck an agreement not to use the results of new, Common Core-aligned tests in teachers' evaluations through the 2015-16 school year.

The lawsuit seems to confirm the increasing tendency towards turning the courts to force changes in teacher and union policy (see Vergara and the Friedrichs case seeking to end agency fees). But it probably isn't going to do much to convince beleaguered teachers that there isn't a conspiracy against them.

Read the lawsuit below.

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