Breaking News: New York’s Sheri Lederman is to Have Her Day in Court

Remember Sheri Lederman of Long Island, the apparently, by all other accounts, terrific 4th grade and now 18 year veteran teacher who received an “ineffective” rating based on New York’s value-added model (VAM); that is, a score of 1 out of 20 after she scored a 14 out of 20 the year prior (see prior posts herehere and here)?  With her husband, Bruce Lederman – an attorney – she was suing the state of New York to challenge the state’s teacher evaluation system…

Well, the state of New York sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, but a few days ago the New York Supreme Court ruled that the lawsuit would move forward. This is great news for the Ledermans, and (hopefully, soon to be) great news for many others across the nation!

This comes from an email sent by Bruce Lederman yesterday (with his permission to share with you all):

I am very pleased to advise all of you, who have generously helped and volunteered your time and thoughts, that Judge Roger D. McDonough just issued the attached decision finding that Sheri does indeed have standing to challenge her growth score of 1 out of 20 points. The [New York] Education Department [NYED] has been ordered to answer the Petition claiming that the score is arbitrary and capricious within 30 days from notice of entry…

The Court is holding off a decision until after the [NYED] answers our request for discovery and depositions. We have requested underlying data, a clear statement of what Sheri needed to do to get a perfect score, and to take depositions of both State Ed and [the American Institutes for Research (AIR) – the VAM developer in NY].

I don’t know what the Ed Department will say but predict that they will predominantly argue that the growth score, while not perfect, is not sufficiently irrational to justify Court intervention. Obviously, [we] strongly disagree. I suspect that they will try to argue that there is some overriding legislative interest in promoting student “growth” which will somehow allow them to avoid the merits of Sheri’s otherwise very strong case.

Thanks to all who have helped and I look forward to getting a Judicial decision actually addressing the irrationality of Value Added Models.

As per a post yesterday on Diane Ravitch’s blog (also covering the same “Breaking News”) this means that “that the NY Education Department must now answer to a Judge and explain why a rating which is irrational by any reasonable standard should be permitted to remain. The NY Education Department argued that Sheri Lederman lacked standing to challenge an “ineffective” rating on her growth score since her overall rating was still effective and she was not fired. A judge disagreed and determined that an ineffective rating on a growth score is an injury which she is entitled to challenge in Court.”

Sheri, on behalf of many, will finally have her day in court.

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