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Long Island Teacher Sues State Over Grade, Claims Evaluation System Is Flawed

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) -- From the classroom to the courtroom. A highly regarded Long Island teacher is suing the state over a bad grade.

She claims the New York teacher evaluation system is statistically flawed and punishes excellence.

"I found it inconceivable," 4th grade teacher Sheri Lederman told CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff.

After teaching in Great Neck for 17 years, Lederman was shocked by the grade that she received.

"The state education department had awarded me on the student growth score, only one point out of twenty," she said.

It was the lowest possible score, the evaluation deemed her ineffective and well below average. The score was baffling for the teacher with a doctorate in education, who has been dubbed by her superintendent a highly regarded, exceptional educator, with a flawless record.

"It's insulting and infuriating," she said.

Lederman is now suing the New York State Department of Education to remove the grade, and called the system arbitrary and capricious.

"There is no explanation. No logic," she said.

Lederman's husband, an attorney, said they are suing for reform, not money. The job rating, based on student test scores, is supposed to measure student growth.

"This model does not fairly evaluate teachers in top performing school districts who bring out the best in their children year after year," Bruce Lederman said, "when children are scoring at the upper end of the spectrum initially, there is very little room for them to grow."

The state's new teacher evaluations have been hailed by the education reform group 'Students First' as a historic first step.

"Parents need information about teacher performance. School teachers need to know where to target resources and children deserve high quality teachers," Sara Alwan, Students First NY, said.

Lederman called it irrational. The state would not comment on the pending lawsuit.

Lederman said that she has considered quitting teaching, but would rather go down fighting. Her legal challenge could affect teacher evaluations nationwide.

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