Teacher Evaluations Going Public

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By: Matt Horn
November 13, 2013

The evaluations of tens of thousands of Florida Teachers are about to become public. The largest teachers’ union is urging parents to be cautious when they look at the data.

In 2011 lawmakers passed a law requiring districts to evaluate educators. When the first scores came back last year, teachers protested, saying the formula being used was so complicated that two out of three teachers were being judged on students who were never in their classrooms.

“This is based off 4th and 5th graders’ scores at the school, but they’re not the kids I teach,” said Margaret Goodwin, a Florida teacher.

Lawmakers changed the law after the protests, but now the original scores ranking teachers across the state will be released to the public. The release follows an appeals court order siding with a Jacksonville newspaper. Florida School Boards Association Executive Director Wayne Blanton says the court had no choice.

“The court said you have to follow the law and the law at this time says there is a one year exemption; there is no three year exemption,” said Blanton.

While Florida’s largest teachers’ union agrees with Blanton, they say the evaluations being released misrepresent teachers.

“The whole system is flawed right now. Even in the best case scenario, you’re just going to be rating teachers based on this one test, this one day,” said Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the Florida Educators Association.

The decision by the Appeals Court overturns a lower court ruling, which would have kept the records sealed.

The evaluations are based on three years of data and the original ruling would have kept the data private until the three years ended. Now the data will be released yearly.

“Your going to base them on those three years and if year one is meaningless and year two is meaningless, if year three becomes more meaningful you still have a three year period which most of the data is really bad,” said Pudlow.

The Florida Department of Education refused our request for an on-camera interview, but said they are reviewing the court ruling.

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