Teacher of the Year Receives "Unsatisfactory" Evaluation Under New State Law
Published December 3rd, 2012
GAINESVILLE - It's a math equation that's left many teachers feeling overwhelmed. A formula that's supposed to better measure a student's performance on the FCAT has instead caused many teachers to receive poor marks on their evaluations this year.
It's part of a new state law called the "Student Success Act" which was first signed into law last year. It was designed to hold teachers more accountable for their students' performance on standardized tests.
The formula used to calculate their performance on those tests is called the VAM, or value added model. It measures a student's expected score on the FCAT, and compares that estimation to their actual score. The only problem: according to the local teachers' union, only 30 percent of teachers in Alachua county actually have students who take the FCAT.
Those tests do not begin until a student enters the third grade. As a result, the evaluations of teachers in grades K through 2 used school-wide averages to calculate their VAM scores. That means some teachers were being evaluated for the performance of students they never even taught.
Because of this, many teachers received lower evaluation scores this year, including Irby Elementary's "Teacher of the Year", who was so surprised by her evaluation that she posted a picture on Facebook that has since gone viral.
Even state lawmakers who voted for the bill acknowledge that there are some aspects of it that will potentially have to change. "It's a critical time right now," said State Representative Keith Perry, who voted for the Student Success Act last year. "This is a time that we revisit, we look at what's being implemented, not make knee-jerk reactions, but certainly look at it prudently and more exhaustively. I think we'll do that this session," said Rep. Perry.
In fact, there's even more pressure on lawmakers to fix this issue during the next legislative session, because starting in 2014, not only will teacher evaluations be tied to their students performance, but so will their pay.
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