Despite Union Lawsuit, Governor Signs 'Partial Fix' For Teacher Evaluations

Jun 18, 2013
Originally published on June 17, 2013 12:57 pm

Florida teachers will no longer be evaluated – and have their pay based on – the performance of students they don’t teach.

Gov. Rick Scott has signed a bill passed by the Florida Legislature that should allay some of their concerns.

The law, SB 1664, says teachers must be judged only on the performance of students they’ve taught, but it’s less clear what will happen for teachers of subjects that don’t include standardized tests.

The Florida Education Association FEA is suing over the evaluation system but calls the new law “a partial fix.”

In a press release, the group said “it remains unclear what measures will be used to evaluate teachers whose students do not take the FCATs. And the law does not require that teachers be evaluated on the basis of the subjects they teach, leaving the door open for art, music, science, health, and other teachers to be evaluated using arbitrary and unfair measures unrelated to their work.”

The evaluation system considers performance of students, instructional practice or leadership, and professional responsibilities.

At least 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation is based on the performance for students assigned to them over a 3-year period. There are concessions for teachers with less than three years experience.

“While we’re happy this measure passed the Legislature,” FEA President Andy Ford said, “there is much work to be done to fix the mess created by SB 736.”

The evaluations stem from passage of a law in 2011, SB 736, that bases a portion of teacher salaries on how well students perform on standardized assessments. Paychecks haven’t been impacted yet, but that will change starting next month.

The FEA wants the first two years of evaluations thrown out because teachers were judged on students in other classes and even in other schools.

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