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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida teachers must be evaluated on their own students, lawmakers decide

Reacting to criticisms of Florida's new teacher evaluation system, lawmakers have adopted rules making clear that teachers should be rated on the performance of students actually assigned to them.

SB 1664, overwhelmingly supported in both the House and Senate, was amended to include this language:

"At least 50 percent of a classroom teacher’s or school administrator’s performance evaluation, or 40 percent if less than 3 years of student performance data are available, shall be based upon learning growth or achievement of the teacher’s students or, for a school administrator, the students attending that school; the remaining portion shall be based upon factors identified in district-determined, state-approved evaluation system plans. Student achievement measures for courses associated with statewide assessments may be used only if a statewide growth formula has not been approved for that assessment or, for courses associated with school district  assessments, if achievement is demonstrated to be a more appropriate measure of teacher performance.

"The student performance data used in the performance evaluation of nonclassroom instructional personnel shall be based on student outcome data that reflects the actual contribution of such personnel to the performance of the students assigned to the individual in the individual’s areas of responsibility."

The issue gained importance as seven teachers joined the Florida Education Association in April to sue the state and three school districts over the evaluations, and the fact that many teachers were being held accountable for the results of students they had never taught.

Other bills had sought to address the topic, but the language ultimately got added to this bill on teacher preparation programs.

Its passage was noted Thursday in House debate on HB 7009, a charter school measure that was amended to include requirements that students not be assigned in two consecutive years to teachers with poor evaluations. That bill, now also headed to the governor's desk, reads in part:

"If a high school or middle school student is currently taught by a classroom teacher who, during that school year, receives a performance evaluation rating of “needs improvement” or “unsatisfactory” under s. 1012.34, the student may not be assigned the following school year to a classroom teacher in the same subject area who received a performance evaluation rating of “needs improvement” or “unsatisfactory” in the preceding school year."

Similar provisions were made for elementary school children.

If signed, the rules would become law in July. Then school districts will await the state guidance as they begin to more closely track teachers, evaluations and student assignments. Stay tuned to see how this all plays out.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 2, 2013 4:18pm]


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