An Important Court Victory

While there’s still a long way to go in this case, this is great news. The New York State Supreme Court decided today to allow Sheri Lederman’s case to proceed.

Sheri Lederman is a fourth grade teacher in Great Neck, who has been teaching for 17 years and is very highly regarded. Per the Washington Post: “Her students consistently outperform state averages on math and English standardized tests, and Thomas Dolan, the superintendent of Great Neck schools, signed an affidavit saying “her record is flawless” and that “she is highly regarded as an educator.”

Last year, due to the “convoluted statistical model that the state uses to evaluate how much a teacher ‘contributed’ to students’ test scores,” Ms. Lederman received a score of ineffective on that portion of her evaluation. She responded by suing the State Ed Department, “challenging the rationality of the VAM model being used to evaluate her and, by extension, other teachers.”

The initial response from the NYSED was not to defend the system, but to challenge Lederman’s standing to bring suit. Because she was rated effective overall, the State claimed that she had not suffered any damage and moved to have the suit dismissed.

However, as Diane Ravitch reports: A judge disagreed and determined that an ineffective rating on a growth score is an injury which she is entitled to challenge in Court.

This doesn’t mean she’ll win, of course, only that the case can proceed; the State may still manage to prove that its methodology is valid. But since the lawsuit was first filed there has been a hope that this may help to undermine the whole value added model system, and that hope grew just a little brighter today.

A hearing will most likely be scheduled for the end of the Summer. We’ll keep you posted.

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