1. Gradebook

What’s the difference between being ‘consistently’ and ‘always’ ethical?

Nothing at all, when it comes to Pasco County teacher evaluations.

As negotiators battled over contract terms relating to performance evaluations, a group of Pasco County teachers began complaining about the way the school district was interpreting one of the categories in the annual review.

Known officially as Florida Educator Accomplished Practices No. 6, the issue spoke to teachers’ ethical conduct in the classroom.

And as Land O’Lakes High social studies teacher Kenny Blankenship, a former United School Employees of Pasco president, told the School Board, the definitions to distinguish between “highly effective” and “effective” work lacked difference.

The higher level required a teacher to “always” be ethical, while the lower one called for a teacher to “consistently” meet that mark.

“They are the same,” Blankenship argued, reading dictionary definitions. “If I consistently demonstrate ethical conduct, then I always demonstrate ethical conduct.”

Within two weeks, the district administration changed its approach, in a nod to the rising number of questions from both teachers and administrators.

“After much discussion, the determination was made that this standard is best addressed in a way that identifies whether expectations have or have not been met,” accountability supervisor Deanna DeCubellis wrote in a memo to all district administrators.

In other words, teachers would either be rated “highly effective,” or not.

“The decision was made to remove the option of ‘effective’ for this standard,” DeCubellis wrote.

She added the low marks of developing, needs improvement or unsatisfactory would remain, and teachers receiving those would get evidence explaining why they were not demonstrating expected conduct.

All changes to this evaluation area are to be made automatically in the coming weeks.