Gov. Rick Scott Signs Amendment to Florida Teacher Assessment Law

With the signature of Governor Rick Scott, Florida teacher effectiveness will now only be assessed based on outcomes of students in their own classroom, Peter Schorsch of SaintPetersBlog reports.

The change in the teacher evaluation system was brought on by criticism of a law that went into effect two years ago. In a lawsuit brought shortly after the law debuted, opponents claimed that it was structured in such a way that teachers were getting assessment grades based on the performance of students they weren’t even teaching.

The altered law will require that half of the teacher’s or administrator’s assessed grade be based on the performance of the students directly under their care. How the rest of the grade is determined is left up to each district.

The new law (SB 1664) requires that at least 50 percent of a classroom teacher’s or school administrator’s performance evaluation be based on the growth or achievement of the students under their charge. The other half would be based on district-determined plans.

Teachers with less than three years experience would only be judged on 40 percent of their students’ performance.
The Florida Education Association, which has spearheaded a lawsuit against the teacher-evaluation system passed in 2011, will continue to contest it in court. It called the new law a “partial fix.”

Andy Ford praised legislators and Scott for putting in the partial solution, but said that the organization remained committed to undoing the changes brought about by the original 2011 law both via the ballot box and the court room. Specifically, the FEA is demanding that the lawmakers make clear how teachers whose students don’t take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test will get their performance evaluated.

In addition, according to the FEA, the law still allows for a possibility of a teacher being assessed based on subjects they don’t teach.

The measure was one of 60 bills on a range of issues that Scott signed prior to departing on an economic development mission to Paris last week.

Among the other bills signed Friday:

— Low-speed vehicles, (SB 62), allows street-legal, “low-speed vehicles” to be reclassified as golf carts, a move to reduce registration and insurance costs.

— Intellectual disabilities (SB 142), eliminates the term “mental retardation” from various parts of state law and replaces it with “intellectual disability.” The old term is considered offensive and outdated by advocates for people with disabilities.

— Online insurance (HB 223), allows property and casualty insurance policies and endorsements to be available on an insurer’s Internet website rather than being mailed, if agreed to by the customer.