Florida teachers are frustrated with the model being used to evaluate their work, but a newly released 2014-15 teacher evaluation summary suggests that most are doing a good job. The results reveal that 37.5% of all teachers who were rated earned a "highly effective" mark, 60.9% received an "effective" score, and a mere 0.2% were scored as"unsatisfactory."
The "unsatisfactory" rating is one which can threaten a teacher's employment status. The Osceola and Escambia districts showed about 2% of teachers ranking in the "unsatisfactory" category, writes Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times. Of the state's 190,516 teachers, almost 17% were not evaluated.
At times, superintendents have expressed concern that the results might not be an accurate measurement of performance. But teacher groups contend that it is not a surprise that Florida has well-qualified and high-performing educators.
Teachers in Florida generally believe that student test scores should not be used to evaluate teachers' abilities and effectiveness. In the last year, state lawmakers lowered the amount the scores represent in teachers' evaluation from a minimum of 50% to a minimum of 33.3%.
The evaluations can also be a boon for those teachers who have a "highly effective" score and qualifying college entrance exam ratings. But the life expectancy of a program that awards a bonus based on those scores continues to be hotly debated in the state legislature.
In South Florida, Palm Beach County showed 42% of teachers receiving the highest marks and 34% of Miami-Dade teachers had the same. In Broward County, however, just 14% received top scores. Approximately 85% of teachers in Broward earned "effective" ratings compared to 57% in Palm Beach and 65% in Miami-Dade.
"Teacher evaluation formulas are decided by each county. Clearly, Broward's formula is severely flawed," said Sharon Glickman, president of the Broward Teachers Union. "Broward has just as many A schools as our neighboring school districts. We should have just as many highly effective teachers."
Mike Murgio, a Palm Beach County School Board member, said the evaluation system has been terrible and was pushed on districts without allowing adequate time to implement it accurately.
Florida mandates that individual districts and unions create their teacher evaluation system and ensure the measurement is in line with the requirements of the state, reports Scott Travis for the Sun Sentinel.
Districts often have disparate interpretations of how teachers should be appraised. Broward officials have stated that their measurements are more thorough than other districts' evaluations.
In June, The Tampa Bay Times' Jeffrey Solochek wrote that Florida legislators admitted they had initially taken too hard a stance on the teacher evaluation issue.
"We were trying to prove a point, and we became overprescriptive," said Senate Education Committee Chairman John Legg, who began pressing the issue five years ago.
Last spring the lawmakers eased up a bit, since they felt the idea of increasing teachers' accountability had been understood and accepted by all concerned. This is the point at which they lessened the amount test scores would affect evaluations and gave districts the opportunity to add other elements to the formula.