Latest FLDOE Finding: Poverty and Race Didn’t Matter in Teacher Evaluation Scores

From Associated Press reporter Bill Kaczor in the Miami Herald:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Studies show students’ race and socio-economic status have virtually no correlation with their teachers’ performance evaluation scores, a top Florida education official told a legislative panel Thursday.

Teachers are being evaluated during the current school year for the first time using what’s known as a value-added model. Half of each score must be based on how much a teacher’s students have improved on reading and math tests from one year to the next.

A hotly debated 2011 law that created the evaluation system prohibits students’ race, ethnicity, socio-economic status and gender from being considered in the value-added model, but it doesn’t really matter, said Deputy Chancellor for Educator Quality Kathy Hebda.

Hebda presented charts to the House K-12 Education Subcommittee that show almost zero correlation between teachers’ evaluation scores and the percentages of their students who are poor, nonwhite, gifted, disabled or English language learners. Teachers similarly didn’t get any advantage or disadvantage based on what grade levels they teach.

“Those things didn’t seem to factor in,” Hebda said. “You can’t tell for a teacher’s classroom by the way the value-added scores turned out whether she had zero percent students on free and reduced price lunch or 100 percent.”

Not all subcommittee members were convinced.

“You can’t deny the difference between a child who comes from a home where the parents are able to help that child with their learning, or if they provide tutoring or other enrichment activities, versus a child who goes home and doesn’t know where they’re going to stay that night,” said Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, D-Maitland. “It’s a factor that is out of the teacher’s control.”

Hebda said the model levels out those differences because it compares year-to-year test scores instead of using just the results from a single year.

I’m dying to know how they were able to squeeze this conclusion out of that junk pile of rancid potpourri. Naturally, one republican legislator said that “those who say it can’t be done need to get out of the way of those who are doing it,” and the results vindicated SB736.

Was this nonsense run by Tony Bennett first? If so, this is Bennett’s report. It furthermore makes the his bosses on the board of education look bad for signing off on race-based education goals last fall,  Wonder how Jeb Bush’s foundation will spin this.


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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9 Responses to Latest FLDOE Finding: Poverty and Race Didn’t Matter in Teacher Evaluation Scores

  1. Tom James says:

    Let’s put things in perspective. First, Hebda is a Jeb Bush flunkie. All top DOE management was personally vetted by Jeb and his sidekick Patti Levesque. The strategy is similar to Hitler’s: if you say a lie over and over eventually people will start to believe you.
    If what Hebda said were true there would be NO difference between affluent suburban schools full of college bound students and urban inner city schools where many struggle to pass FCAT and EOC exams and 40-70 percent will drop out sometime between 9th and 12th grade.
    Her argument is believable as giving tax breaks to billionaires will create jobs and prosperity will trickle downward. Hebda lives in the magical world of bureaucratic DOE pencil pushing where the outcome is already pre-ordained by the agenda.

  2. David Freeland says:

    If I am reading this correctly, they are saying the system works and the evidence is they are getting the numbers the system has been set up to produce.

    That is kind of like saying that nobody likes strawberries because nobody is eating strawberries – which makes perfect sense until you realize the blueberry farmers own the supermarket and didn’t stock strawberries…

  3. kafkateach says:

    NY state includes race and poverty as variables in their VAM. Are children in Florida less impacted by poverty than children in NY? Keep in mind, as part of the NCLB waiver, Florida has created different achievement goals for schools and districts based on race and poverty. Seems a little hypocritical to ban it for use in teacher evaluations. Hebda is always arguing that VAM is reliable because it uses multiple years of data. When I asked her how VAM is going to work when some teachers start being evaluated on EOCs, tests students have never taken before, she said they would somehow tweak the formula for that. As we transition to the Common Core, the formula cannot possibly use FCAT scores to predict how students will score on the PARCC. This whole thing is a mess. Thanks for speaking up Karen Castor Dentel!

  4. VAM has already been found in countless studies to be wildly inaccurate and rate the same teacher teaching the same demographic population to be highly effective one year and ineffective the next. So…of course poverty doesn’t matter to VAM. If it’s random and arbitrary to begin with, why should poverty matter? Duh.

  5. kafkateach says:

    The FLDOE report is a bunch of baloney. How can Dade county have twice the amount of A schools, but half as many highly effective teachers and seven times the amount of “needs improvement” teachers when our student populations are so similar?

  6. kafkateach says:

    Sorry, I meant to be comparing Dade county to Broward county in the post above but I didn’t specify. I think I better go to bed now.

  7. Eileen says:

    Teacher performance should be determined internally by a board of teacher reviewers within the Union, that observe the teachers … teach. Then all the political BS about socioeconomics could be done away with, where teacher evals are concerned. Teaching would then also come into the realm of “respected profession” in the public eye, as law and medicine are, the quality of each policed internally by the Bar and DPR, not how patients and clients do.

    • Daniel Wydo says:

      This is the general consensus among EVAAS proponents – if multiple years of data, across multiple subjects, are compiled and analyzed using statistical regression, then there is no need for multivariate inclusion (including poverty factors, etc…) because the historical scores serve as ‘blocks’ or controls. IOW, the same student serves as his/her own control against outside, mitigating factors OVER TIME. The NY VAM is probably year to year, using the previous year’s score as a pretest, while attempting to estimate covariates such as poverty, etc…, and relying on that year’s score as the postest.

      Im sure that the graphs and data Hebda presented were based on growth data (I dont know – I wasnt there), which if true, means many of you are missing the point. While proficiency status correlates almost perfectly with SES factors, growth should NOT. The idea here is that all students, regardless of their SES, have the ability to grow at predictable rates.

      Since VAM is so new, it will take some time (probably a few years) to actually see if these assumptions within these models are true.

      Does anyone know if Hebda’s data is publically available for scrutiny? If so, where?

  8. Pingback: Is the Florida Department of Education Smarter than a Fifth Grader? « kafkateach

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