Teacher speaks out about VAM evaluations

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- For the first time, First Coast News is hearing directly from a Duval County Public School teacher who says she and other teachers remain frustrated by the Value Added Model teacher evaluations.

Jill Hardison teaches 5th grade at Oceanway Elementary School. It is a job this mom has done for years and loves.

"The majority of teachers that I know are not slackers. We all work very hard," she said. "The teachers at my school work very hard."

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Recently, FCN's partner the Florida Times-Union fought a legal battle to have the state's VAM evaluations released. The VAM's score teacher performance and also assess student learning gains.

"I don't mind being held accountable," Hardison said. "I would want my own children...their students to be held accountable. But, I think it needs to be done fairly."

DCPS Superintendent, Dr. Nikolai Vitti told FCN he supports the VAM's concept, but the scoring system is in its early stages. St. John's County's Superintendent, Joseph Joyner, was disappointed in the scores release.

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Hardison said she's mostly concerned with certain parts of the VAM scores.

"The public doesn't understand that this system isn't working correctly," Hardison said. "Which is why I'm speaking. I want them to understand that it's being calculated in an unfair way."

"Unfortunately, we also have students that could be in our class, and in my situation, this has happened. For less than a month, sometimes a week, and we are still held accountable for those students in regard to their scores and whether or not they made growth."

Hardison said she would like to see something different.

"A system that evaluates teachers based on what is available to them and what they actually can do with the students."

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