Putting Education Reform To The Test

Bill Requires Teachers Are Evaluated Based On Students They Taught


Lawmakers are working on adjustments to the state's teacher evaluation law, including requiring evaluation be based only on students in the teacher's classes.

Florida lawmakers moved a step closer to requiring teachers only are evaluated based on the performance of students in their classes, according to the Gainesville Sun.

Currently, evaluations for teachers in subjects not tested by the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test are assigned a score based on the school-wide average. That means an art or music teacher could be evaluated using FCAT reading scores.

A 2011 state law requires schools districts to base at least 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation on student improvement on standardized tests. Known as a value-added model, the complicated statistical formula tries to strip out factors such as attendance or class size to measure just how much the teacher has improved the student’s scores.

Critics say the evaluations have large margins of error and score can have large variations from year to year.

Lawmakers — most notably Senate President Don Gaetz — were not satisfied by the first batch of statewide teacher evaluation data and want to change the formula.

Teachers are still skeptical, the Sun reports, even if evaluation just on students in their classes:

Irby Elementary Teacher of the Year Kim Cook said legislators’ initial decision to evaluate teachers based on students’ growth in other classes is “shameful.”

“It shows how little legislators know,” the first-grade teacher said. “It wasn’t thought through to begin with.”

Cook, who in December took to Facebook to show her displeasure with the state’s evaluation model, said she welcomes the idea of people looking at student growth in her classroom, but she worries about how it will work.

School districts would have to design tests for subjects not currently tested by FCAT. Lawmakers have discussed creating standard end-of-course exams statewide, rather than having each school district do so.


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