Florida Teachers Union Appeals Merit Pay Ruling

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There's a renewed push to change Florida's teacher evaluation system.

The state's top teacher's union has filed an appeal in federal court to prevent some student test scores from being used to evaluate teachers.

They spend an entire school year with students in the classroom.

But for Florida teachers, their evaluation has been based on the single standardized FCAT test.

In a federal lawsuit, the Florida Education Association teacher's union or FEA claims in three of the state's counties, teachers are being evaluated from the scores of students they don't teach and for subjects they don't teach based on provisions of a 2011 state senate bill.

In April, the union's Joanne McCall talked to us about high stakes testing.

"We should never be judging schools, teachers or students on one single test," McCall said.

"The emphasis we put on testing in that way I've never thought was a good idea," said State Representative Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda of Tallahassee.

But the FEA lost its case because the legal standard for dismissing a legislative act wasn't met even though the federal judge called the system unfair.

Now FEA will takes its case to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The appeal comes as a new Florida standardized test will be put in place next school year.

"The accountability system needs to be fair, be easy to understand and certainly convey the performance of the school," Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said in April.

"We really need to move away from high stakes testing and talk about looking at a total package of how schools, teachers and students perform as a whole," McCall said.

"Number one goal is working to improve student achievement," said Stewart.

In April, both McCall and Stewart told us they'd be willing to work with each other and their organizations.

FEA's lawsuit names Stewart and the state board of education as defendants.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida's teacher union is appealing a recent ruling that upheld the state's contentious teacher evaluation law.

A federal judge in May concluded the 2011 law was unfair but stated there was no legal reason to overturn it.

Seven teachers from three counties, as well as the Florida Education Association, contended that the 2011 law tying teacher evaluations and pay to standardized testing is unconstitutional.

U.S District Judge Mark Walker dismissed the lawsuit. FEA President Andy Ford said in a statement that Walker erred in concluding the evaluation system is rational. The appeal is being filed with a federal appeals court in Atlanta.

Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the measure in 2010, but Gov. Rick Scott approved it the following year.

The seven teachers are from Alachua, Escambia and Hernando counties.

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