Teachers suing state over new teacher evaluation method

A Texas teacher's union is suing the state over the way it plans to evaluate: teacher performance
The new method called: "Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System" or "T-TESS" is set to take effect July 1.

Kylie Kuehn always cringed at the thought of standardized testing when she was in school.

“I was horrible at standardized testing. I am still horrible at testing. It's just something about being timed and the pressure of testing,” Kuehn said.

She knows the big tests are coming up eventually for five year old Stevie. It's not something she and her husband look forward to.

“I really feel it groups children,” Kuehn said.

Texas will soon use standardized test scores as part of their new teacher evaluation model.

“Now you're going to be focusing more on teaching to the test as opposed to real teaching and learning to allow that creativity to flow through a classroom,” Noel Candelaria, Texas State Teachers Association, said.

Candelaria is a high school special-education teacher, and president of the Texas State Teachers Association. The group filed the lawsuit against the education commissioner Wednesday. Under the new evaluation system, districts must base 20 percent of each teacher's performance on student growth measures which includes standardized testing.

“When you look at the fact that we don’t have standardized students and  now you're using 20 percent evaluation for teachers based on an arbitrary number, it moves away from what we want to focus on which is real student learning,” Candelaria said.

Candelaria says the new system will put more pressure on teachers and students. He recalls stories some teachers have told him.
“Kids are showing up to school and throwing up because of anxiety,” he said.

Proponents of testing say it's a fair way to measure student achievement. Candelaria and some parents believe differently.

“There are better ways to see how children are taking everything in,” Kuehn said.

The Texas Education Agency declined to comment at this time. They say they are waiting for the lawsuit to be served.

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