Time for Rick Scott and Florida’s Republican Legislators to Admit SB736 Was a Bad Idea

From this morning’s Daytona Beach News-Journal:

Florida teachers got high marks for the 2012-13 school year, but the grades were so good — compared to student performance — that some skepticism and concern on the part of taxpayers and parents are warranted.

For example, evaluations of instructional staff in the 2012-13 school year found that 97.9 percent of Florida teachers and instructional staff were highly effective or effective. Only 0.2 percent of educators got unsatisfactory reviews, and only 1.4 percent of instructional staff got a “needs improvement” review.

With merit pay fully kicking in next year, and with student proficiency levels being far from what they should be, taxpayers and parents need to ask if the high ratings statewide, and in Volusia and Flagler counties, are too good to be true.

Numbers this good should actually raise flags and get parents and taxpayers asking more about the evaluations and their methodology

There are four levels of teacher effectiveness on evaluation systems. Before the first year of it’s implementation, I shared a concern with my principal that the public – and the legislators who crafted the bill – would want a bell-curve outcome with half of evaluations on the left side as unsatisfactory or needs improvement. He assured me that wouldn’t be the case.  My concern turned out to be real.

There aren’t any other professions that has a system of evaluation even remotely like this.  To be valid, it needed – and was expected to – identify more bad teachers. It didn’t. More from the News-Journal:

The consistently high evaluations across the state indicate a problem — a soft system of teacher evaluation. Weak evaluation systems do not serve teachers or students.

The “weak evaluation system” was never intended to “serve teachers or students.” They wanted easy objective data that enabled the firing of teachers a la Michelle Rhee in Washington, DC. And Florida’s massive testing apparatus is constantly changing and expensive. The one in place when SB 736 was passed in 2011 is far different than the one in place today. It, too, is an uncertain mess.

With the roll-out of merit pay scheduled for 2014, legislators are saying that if SB736 is to be tweaked it must be done during the January session. How about beginning with admitting that it was a bad idea?


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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One Response to Time for Rick Scott and Florida’s Republican Legislators to Admit SB736 Was a Bad Idea

  1. I work at a Title 1 school. Poverty is everywhere I look. Last year when I taught Kindergarten I had 5/21 students miss more than 30+ days of school. I had 4 go homeless!! How is this my fault as the teacher? I can not teach what is not in front of me and the 5 yr olds who ended up homeless had bigger things to worry about than homework. I was rated effective (borderline highly effective) because I work had for the little people whose parents entrust me with their education. And until the real issue_ POVERTY_ is addressed by politicians, I do not see too much more getting done to fix low impoverished districts scores.

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