Local Superintendents respond to teacher evaluations release

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Parents can now access their child's teacher's evaluation ratings online. Florida's value added model, also called VAM, scores a teachers performance. But its accuracy is in question.

First Coast News' editorial partner, The Florida Times-Union fought a legal battle for the right to access teachers VAM scores. Monday they were released. Local Superintendents, some parents and teachers are not happy about the move.

"It's trying teachers by mob," said Colleen Wood. She has two children in the top rated school district in the state, St. Johns County.

Wood says the release of the data is a slap in the face for teachers.

"It's beyond insulting," said Wood. "It's like saying to doctors we're going to rank you from best to worse on how many of your patients live."

The aggregated teacher data for 2011-2012 shows teacher's VAM scores, it's an assessment of students learning gains. However, is it accurate?

Related Story: Grading Florida's teachers and schools

"I'm sure it's left a bitter taste in some teacher's mouths," said Duval County Schools Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti.

He supports the concept of VAM, but says the complex scoring system is in its early stages. the system doesn't take a lot of factors into account and needs more uniformity to create a quality assessment. Vitti says teachers agreed to use the value added model, with the understanding that the rankings would be protected.

"This release of the data when they were told that it would not be released continues I think to affect moral in a negative way," said Vitti.

According to the T-U, in Duval and Putnam Counties a little more than half the teachers rated received below average scores. In St. Johns County, 68 percent received above average evaluations, which is the highest in the state.

St. Johns County Superintendent Joseph Joyner sent a letter to his teachers Monday detailing his disappointment in the release of the data.

"In my opinion, publicly judging teachers on this number alone strips the individual dignity of a teacher and is no better than judging them on their race, hair color, income or religion," said Joyner.

Related Link: St. Johns County Superintendent Joyner responds to the release of VAM scores

"As a parent I know how my child's teacher is doing based on my child's experience in the class," said Wood. "And how they perform throughout the year, not just on one test in one day."

Wood says she's hopeful the release of the rankings will spark a change in the way the scores are gathered and tabulated.


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