Annie Cosby May 7, 2014, 4:45pm

A Houston teachers' organization is suing over claims the Houston Independent School District uses unfair teacher evaluation methods.  

The Houston Federation of Teachers Local 2415, Daniel Santos, Paloma Garner, Ivan Castillo, Andy Dewey, Joyce Helfman, Myla Van Duyn and Araceli Ramos filed a lawsuit April 30 in the Southern District Court of Texas Houston Division against Houston Independent School District.

According to the complaint, HISD uses a calculation called an EVAAS score, based on students' test score improvements in relation to previous years and other students' improvements, to evaluate teacher performance.

The plaintiffs claim the EVAAS score makes the teacher responsible for a number of uncontrollable outside factors that affect student growth from year to year, such as poverty and English language learners taking tests in English.

The lawsuit also claims high-achieving students will yield a teacher a low score, because the test scores of a consistently high-achieving student will show little change. According to the complaint, these unfair EVAAS scores are used to make employment and contractual decisions.

The plaintiffs also say the algorithm behind the EVAAS score is considered a "trade secret," making teachers unable to change their methods to yield a higher score or even defend themselves against the district's vague evaluations, which constitutes a violation of due process.

The plaintiffs are seeking judgment that enjoins the defendant from using the EVAAS scores to evaluate teachers.

They are being represented in the case by attorney Martha P. Owen of Deats, Durst, Owen & Levy PLLC.

Southern District Court of Texas Houston Division Case No. 4:14-cv-01189.

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed in the Southern District Court of Texas Houston Division. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note, a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt, and it only represents one side of the story.

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