Florida Department of Education, FEA challenge VAM ruling
The Florida Department of Education and the Florida Education Association have each asked the First District Court of Appeal to rehear a case concerning whether teacher value-added model ratings are public record.
The court ordered the records be released after a lawsuit by the Florida Times-Union newspaper seeking the information.
The union and the department have challenged the ruling, saying the data should be kept private. From the DOE's filing:
This Court held that “information or data used to prepare [a public school teacher’s] evaluation” is not necessarily exempt from disclosure. Opinion, pp. 5-6. Chapter 119, Florida Statutes, and the case law interpreting it have uniformly held that it is the nature of the record at issue, rather than the records name or origin, that controls in a public records analysis. We are unaware of any case that has held that a record is confidential and exempt, but the component records that comprise that summative record are not. Compare Justice Coalition v. First Dist. Court of Appeal Nominating Comm'n, 823 So.2d 185, 193 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002)(holding that the vote sheets, ballot tally sheets, and ballots are exempt under the Florida Constitution because they are part of the Judicial Nominating Commission deliberation process). The Court’s opinion misapprehends the fact that teachers’ VAM scores comprise at least 50% of the criteria in many teachers’ evaluations. For many teachers, no other evaluation criteria carry greater weight. If the primary evaluative component is not confidential and exempt from disclosure, than the exemption is meaningless.