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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

FEA calls on Gov. Rick Scott to put off value-added teacher evaluations



With Florida teachers' final evaluation results due to the Department of Education on Friday, the Florida Education Association is asking Gov. Rick Scott to suspend the statutory obligation requiring the use of value-added model scores to teachers’ evaluations.

The VAM scores have caused angst among many teachers, who question whether the system accurately and fairly measures their contributions to student learning.

FEA president Andy Ford has noted that even the DOE's own research expert has cautioned districts in a Sept. 28 memo that the results may not be reliable, and to use caution. In many instances, teachers are being evaluated on the results of students they never taught.

"This would be the perfect time to intercede," Ford told the Gradebook. "The research shows that any accountability system needs to be fair, accurate, reliable and easily understoof. Our system that is in place now officially misses every one of those."

Even if districts ignore the VAM results this year, he added, that doesn't mean they won't ever be used, as it stands now. The current law on evaluations calls for using a three-year average of scores, meaning they can still come back in 2014 when the full program goes into effect.

But suspending the rule could give the Legislature time to improve the laws, making them better for teachers, Ford said. And with the Republicans having lost their supermajorities in the House and Senate, the chances for more reasoned discussion and compromise might have improved, he suggested.

"Hopefully the result of the election is going to turn down the volume of the rhetoric in Tallahassee," Ford said. "Even if we don't agree with the direction they want to go ... we can make a bad policy better."

Ford said he had spoken with Scott's chief of staff about his request on VAM scores. With the elections and other events ongoing, though, the governor has yet to respond.

[Last modified: Thursday, November 8, 2012 12:20pm]


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