WUFT News

Legislators, teachers show uncertainty of new law evaluating Florida educators

By on April 2nd, 2013

In addition to the multimillion dollar changes Gov. Rick Scott has proposed to reform the state education system, the Florida Senate Committee on Education recently approved Senate Bill 980, which seeks to link teachers’ evaluations to the students they teach.

A fifth grade teacher teaches a math class.

Old Shoe Woman / Flickr

The way teachers are evaluated in Florida could soon change.

Nearly a week after the unanimous decision, Florida legislators and teachers are uncertain of the bill. SB 980 seeks to reform Florida’s current law on performance pay for teachers, which many consider to be “fatally flawed.”

One Florida senator said even though he opposes the proposed bill, he hopes state legislators will establish the criteria where performance pay might work. However, he is doubtful that will come to fruition.

“The only problem is, nationally, performance pay has been tried over 150 times, and there has yet to be a system that has work,” said Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami.

“It would be amazing if (Florida) could make that a reality. I don’t have the faith that it will. There are too many outlying factors that go into the teaching profession that make the evaluation system of the state, currently set up, faulty.”

Senate Bill 736, which was passed in 2011, ties at least 50 percent of a teacher’s salary to student performance on standardized tests for those students assigned to them over a three-year period. Forty percent of a teacher’s current evaluation uses a student growth model, (also known as a value-added model) to determine whether a teacher added any value or knowledge to a student during a school year.

Before a student takes the FCAT, the state predicts his or her score based on previous test scores. This model would still be implemented in the new bill, which causes some to believe that it will introduce errors in the evaluation process.

“It’s a small fix to a kind of chaotic problem that exists right now,” said Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the Florida Education Association. “If a teacher doesn’t perform well according to these tests, they could lose their job. When you have a system with errors inherently built into it, that causes a problem.”

The current law allows for a physical education teacher to be evaluated for a student’s reading scores on the FCAT. With SB 980, more standardized tests for various subjects taught by teachers would be created to evaluate them instead.

Michelle Pfeiffer, a seventh-grade civics teacher at Inverness Middle School, believes standardized tests could be highly useful, but too costly to implement across the board.

“Under this new legislation, the attempt to fix it is honorable, but we don’t have the resources to create the new tests for all the subject areas for all the teachers that teach such a variety of skills and content,” said Pfeiffer, who is also the president of the Citrus County Education Association.

“And unless we can provide equity and validity for all the tests  for all the subject areas and make sure everything is in place, we need to stop for now until we have those resources in place.”

Despite concerns over available funding to implement SB 980, proponents of the law agree it’s a step in the right direction for teachers’ evaluations and for students’ quality of education.

“I think it’s a great bill,” said Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach. “I think you’re going to see more of these types of reform as the entire legislature gets on the same page. Anything that we can help our children learn better in school is a good investment for the entire state.”


This entry was posted in Education and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Education

Investment Into Open-Access Textbooks Could Save Students Millions

Funding for Orange Grove Text Plus, an open-acess textbook initiative, can make textbooks even more affordable than e-textbooks. If enacted, it could cost students almost nothing.


Florida Prepaid Plans At Lowest Price Since 2007

Florida Prepaid College plans have dropped nearly 50 percent in price due to new legislation. Families that enrolled after 2008 are also eligible for refunds or reduced monthly fees.


Kent Fuchs, left, and David McLaughlin are the two finalists for the UF president position.

UF Presidential Search Committee Moves Forward with Two Candidates

Dr. W. Kent Fuchs and Dr. David W. McLaughlin move forward in the search for a new president for the University of Florida. Dr. Sibrandes Poppema was not selected to continue on in the presidential search.


Susan Bowles hugs Jennifer Anhalt after Anhalt roused the crowd at the town hall meeting Tuesday night regarding standardized test practices in in Alachua County. In an interview after the meeting, Bowles said she was so grateful to have heard Anhalt speak with such skill on the matter that is so close to the hearts of many teachers.

Town Hall Meeting Explains State Tests, Community Reacts

Parents and teachers in Alachua County spoke out against elementary school standardized testing they say is too advanced. Students in kindergarten through second grade are expected to take up to nine state-required tests.


Marion County Sheriff's Office Mobile Jail Unit

Mobile Jail Cell Educates Public About Life In Jail

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office launched a program to educate the community about life in jail. A mobile jail cell called the “jail on wheels” shows the typical specifications of a jail cell and is housed in a standard utility trailer.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments