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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco officials explore inconsistencies in teacher evaluation data



The recent release of Florida teacher evaluation preliminary results has yielded a flood of criticisms that the system, required by lawmakers two years ago, has fatal flaws.

Schools with poor state grades continue to have large percentages of teachers rated effective or better. The numbers of teachers considered unsatisfactory remains tiny, raising questions of whether the evaluations are realistic.

Pasco County officials have begun exploring the trends within their district as well. They've found, for instance, that while 1.4 percent of teachers got overall ratings of "needs improvement," the value-added testing data half of the review had 15.3 percent of teachers in that category. (That's for teachers who had test results directly attributable to students they taught.)

In the other rankings, 4.7 percent of teachers earned overall highly effective while 2.8 percent met that mark in the VAM portion, 93.6 percent got effective ratings compared to 80.5 percent in VAM, and none were considered unsatisfactory compared to 1.4 percent in the VAM section.

It's also been noted in Pasco that Lacoochee Elementary, which was forced to restaff after its third consecutive D grade, had all of its teachers in that group evaluated as effective or highly effective.

Assistant superintendent Amelia Larson said she's reviewing all the details, but taking the information in with a grain of salt. She noted that evaluations and school grades measure different things (growth vs. proficiency), and so they're bound to come out with sometimes contradictory results. She suggested that the state needs to reconsider its accountability and evaluation processes to better serve teachers, schools and students.

"We may not have the formula figured out yet for meaningful development and growth," Larson said, noting that many obstacles remain including a lack of appropriate tests for some courses. "This came about so fast. We need to stop and reevaluate what is working."

State senators discussed these issues during committee meetings Tuesday. State Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, sought information to determine whether a delay on more closely linking evaluations to teacher pay and continued employment would be helpful.

Education committee chairman Sen. John Legg said he expected a full update on the details surrounding evaluations in January, after which time the lawmakers can determine how to move forward.

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 12:41pm]


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