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New teacher evaluation system a work in progress, lawmakers say

The much criticized new evaluation model for Florida’s teachers is working in some ways and not in others, members of the House K-12 Subcommittee said today.

Rep. Janet Adkins, the committee chairwoman, said the value-added model system works well when a teacher’s score is directly tied to his or her students’ FCAT scores.

“We’re still quite new at this approach,” said Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach. “I was very impressed with what I saw of the value-added model as it relates to the subjects covered with FCAT, but it’s clear there’s still more work that needs to be done in the other areas.”

For example, teachers at many schools received value-added model scores based on school-wide averages because their students aren’t being tested in a way that can be used to evaluate them. Districts are now in the process of developing new assessments, especially for young students or specialized areas of study.

Adkins says she expects districts to get better at evaluating teachers once those new assessments are implemented. But other members of committees voiced additional concerns.

Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said after the meeting that she is concerned all schools don’t have the technology they need. One principal told her about driving to a neighboring school to pick up additional computers to use during the testing days.

“It’s the level of supplies, equipment that they have in the schools it’s not really there,” said Clarke-Reed of Pompano Beach. “It’s why I think the test scores would be flawed.”

She is also concerned about how testing disrupts normal teaching and instruction, sometime for up to two weeks as students are pulled in and out of classrooms. And Clarke-Reed believes certain teachers could be penalized for having challenging students, such as special education.

“lI think there are things that are built into this that are not the teachers fault and should not be held against the teacher in the whole process of the evaluation,” she said.

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