Pensacola News Journal: “Dysfunctional” VAM a “Farce”

From the editors of the Pensacola News Journal:

Thanks to a legal challenge by the Florida Times-Union, Floridians now have yet another glimpse at just how dysfunctional and absurd school accountability standards are in this state.

After battling the Jacksonville newspaper to keep the public records secret, Florida’s Department of Education finally surrendered data showing how well most teachers scored on the value-added model, or VAM, which is used as roughly half of a teacher’s annual ev

The VAM data is based on students’ reading and math performance on the FCAT. Data that appears to show student improvement (or failure) gets factored into teachers’ evaluations, in conjunction with principals’ in-class evaluations. The problem is, about two-thirds of Florida teachers do not teach reading or math. Under this ridiculous system, everyone from social studies teachers to P.E. coaches get measured on numbers that have nothing to do with what they actually teach.

And that’s all aside from the FCAT’s infamous reputation as highly questionable tool for accurately quantifying results and progress.

Upon release of the data, legislators have admitted that the VAM system has some flaws. Flaws that were too glaring to whitewash. When the Tampa Bay Times sorted through the teacher scores, it discovered “a system so defective that the margin of error in some individual cases was beyond 50 percent.”

A 50 percent margin of error? Really?! In other words, we might as well just flip a coin.

Flip a coin? Ouch.

The PNJ concludes the piece by commending the Florida Times-Union for exposing this farce.



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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