The way charter school teachers are evaluated has become a source of conflict for teachers and for lawmakers in Tallahassee.
The question isn’t whether charter teachers have to be evaluated under state law – they do.
Just like traditional public school teachers, they will eventually have to follow the standards set by the law passed in 2011 known as the Student Success Act, or SB 736.
The point of contention is whether those evaluations will be the same, putting teachers in both camps on a par with each other. That seems to be open to interpretation.
The issue came up recently at a legislative committee meeting where a proposed bill that would add regulations for new and existing charters was up for discussion.
The bill doesn’t exempt charters from abiding by the state-mandated teacher evaluations.
But Rep. George Moraitis, Jr., R-Fort Lauderdale, may have added to the confusion during this exchange:
From News Service of Florida–
Jeff Wright, director of public policy advocacy for the Florida Education Association – the state’s teacher’s union, said his staff read the bill to set out a different evaluation system for pay than the one being designed for traditional public school teachers. “You want to have an uprising in K-12?” he asked the panel. Moraitis said that generally, teacher pay is by intention going to be different in charter schools, where teachers are “at-will employees year-to-year.”
More than 500 charter schools serving more than 200,000 students are currently operating in Florida.
Most of those charters are members of the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools. Spokeswoman Lynn Norman-Teck says there shouldn’t be much of a difference between evaluations at charters and those at regular public schools.
“I disagree with those district teachers that say that charter schools are going to be graded at a different level,” Norman-Teck says.
She thinks the confusion is partly because the Florida Department of Education hasn’t required districts to use a standard evaluation system. She says some districts are using their own evaluations and some charter schools are using their own.
State law aside, she says “charters are all about accountability.”
“If anything, I think charter school teachers are under more pressure than a district public school for performance,” Norman-Teck said. “Charter school teachers and charter schools are evaluated on a daily basis by the parents that walk in that door. No one is assigned to a charter school. That school has to perform not only academically, but it also has to have a certain level of customer service that parents are pleased with. If not, they’re going to walk away.”
Norman-Teck says the consortium and top charter school leaders designed a teacher evaluation tool which complies with state law, which many charter schools are using.
All schools have until the 2014-15 academic year to implement teacher evaluations as required by the Student Success Act.
To explore the first statewide round of teacher evaluation data, click here.