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Florida Department of Education releases controversial teachers’ scores

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The Florida Department of Education is making things quite interesting if you’re an educator. Jacksonville.com is reporting today that the state has released hundreds of thousands of efficiency scores in an attempt to explain how it measures teachers' impact on their student's ability to learn. The students’ parents will now have the ability to access these scores to see how their child is performing with their teachers. So what happens when the Department of Education releases your scores for effectiveness as a teacher? Could this put your job in jeopardy?

These scores play a huge part in teachers' evaluations by reflecting both pockets of excellence and low performance. It was reported by a Times-Union analysis that 58 percent of school districts in the state of Florida saw a majority of their teachers receive accumulated scores below the statewide norms.

Kathy Hebda, the education department’s chief of staff had this to say in a statement: “The commissioner and the Department of Education have been fighting for teachers in an effort to maintain the confidentiality of teacher’s names and their individual value-added data."

Would the release of this information be an invasion of privacy? “Our making them available will allow parents and others to identify the many great teachers, as well as weaker ones,” said Times-Union editor Frank Denton in an article published in February 2013. “Furthermore, given the checkered history of this state data, sunshine will allow the public to make their own evaluation of its quality.”

The Tampa Bay Times reported today that Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart had sent a message to teachers early Monday morning informing them about the department’s decision.

"We are encouraged because through this information, we can celebrate the achievement of Florida educators – the teachers who have led students to success in their classrooms, as well as the programs that trained those teachers, the school and district leaders who supported them, and the families and communities who trusted them. We also feel we have an opportunity because when we look at the data, we can see where we should allocate our resources and attention to continue improving." Stewart said.

The real question is… will these scores be accurate? There are some aspects of being an educator that may not have control over. What if the students don’t devote the appropriate amount of time to their school work? What if they have problems at home? What if the school itself is preventing teachers from doing their job?

It seems to be a little unfair to solely saddle teachers with the success or failure of students when there are thousands of things that are incorporated into a child’s education.

It doesn’t really matter how much you try analyzing cases like these, even when you are doing your job. Big Brother is always watching, and now they’ll have access to your evaluations.The value-added model (also known as the VAM system) aims to see how much, or how little, individual teachers contribute to their students’ success over the course of the school year.

The local school systems will use the scores as part of the teachers’ evaluations. Of course, the districts will have control on how these scores will be incorporated and those scores will still be disputed by many teachers, which is understandable.

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