Houston ISD teacher evaluation terminations

Occurred: October 2017

The Houston Independent School District (HSID) agreed (pdf) to stop using scores generated by an opaque and potentially inaccurate and unfair algorithmic system its to justify the sanctioning and termination of teachers.

The seventh largest school district in the United States, HSID used the SAS Institute's Educational Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) to track teachers’ performance by comparing their students’ test results to the statewide average for students in that grade or course between 2012 and 2017.

Shortly after implementing EVAAS, HISD it would fire 85 percent of teachers rated as ineffective by the system, despite not having access to detailed information about how the system worked on the basis that it was a trade secret. 

Though the lawsuit had allowed an expert to investigate some parts of the system, it was assessed to be impenetrable and the HSID agreed to stop using the system to assess teacher performance as long as it remained impossible to understand. 

Operator: Houston Independent School District
Developer: SAS

Country: USA

Sector: Education

Purpose: Evaluate teacher performance

Technology: Value-added model
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Legal

Transparency: Governance; Black box; Complaints/appeals