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N.Y. Supreme Court Hears Teacher Evaluation Law Challenge

(AP Photo/Mike Groll)

The first case challenging New York's law on teacher evaluations has been heard in the state Supreme Court.

Sheri Lederman, a teacher from Long Island, had some of her students score in the top 2 percent on state tests in 2013, but she received a failing evaluation because their scores did not improve from one semester to the next.

Lederman's lawyer is her husband, Bruce Lederman. He argued on Wednesday that the computer-based teacher evaluation system is inaccurate and unreliable.

"We've shown, in Sheri's case, the evaluations are just irrational," he said. "It's just crazy to say that a teacher like Sheri is ineffective when everything other than a computer program says she is a phenomenal teacher."

Lederman says that the teacher evaluations rely too much on statistics from student test scores.

"That frustrates parents, and teachers feel they have to teach to the test because their jobs are on the line," he said.

The state says the tests help measure student growth, and says that is a rational way to compare a student's performance to their peers. In New York State, if teachers get a failing evaluation on student growth two years in a row, they could be fired. Parents in New York also had complaints against standardized testing and organized an Opt-Out movement. That led to 20 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 boycottingthis year's tests.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.