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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida shouldn't humiliate teachers with bad evaluations, teacher quality group says



Several states including Florida have drastically changed the way they evaluate teachers in the past couple of years, tying student performance to the teachers' ratings and using those ratings to determine whether to retain or release the teachers.

A few of those states, Florida among them, have decided to inform parents when their children are placed in the classrooms of teachers needing improvement. In a new white paper on teacher evaluations, the National Council on Teacher Quality criticizes that decision:

"States like Indiana, Michigan and Florida require notification of parents if their child is placed in a classroom with an ineffective teacher. Some think this is good accountability policy. NCTQ thinks this does a tremendous disservice to the teaching profession. If a district has evidence that a teacher is ineffective, state policy should provide the means for the district to take the necessary steps to remove the individual from the classroom, not humiliate the teacher. Reporting on teacher effectiveness data by the state, district and school level is essential. But when it comes to accountability for ineffective teachers, sending a note home to let families know their child’s teacher is not so good is no solution at all. Rhode Island may have a better alternative. The state makes each district annually certify to the State Commissioner of Education that they have not allowed any student to be taught by an ineffective teacher for more than one year."

The group largely applauds Florida's new evaluation methods, praising such ideas as eliminating last in-first out policies for reductions in force and tying compensation to effectiveness. It offers many other thoughts on how to ensure the evaluations achieve their intended result of improving teaching throughout its report.

"Performance-based teacher evaluation must be approached in a measured, realistic and transparent way. Performance measures are not perfect and good teachers are not the product of formulas. Conducting teacher performance evaluations that focus on the results and the behaviors that matter most will move us toward a system that recognizes and encourages effective instruction and prepares and values highly-effective teachers."

Florida school districts, meanwhile, continue to hone their evaluations. Many still await final approval from the state on the models they have adopted, even as they begin implementing them. Many questions remain on the use of value-added equations to account for student performance, and the methods for reviewing teachers who do not teach materials that are state-tested (such as music) or do not fit traditional models, such as special education.

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 8:23am]


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