Central Florida teachers react to new evaluation system

Department of Education releases results online, quickly takes them down

Published On: Dec 05 2012 03:16:25 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 05 2012 07:31:05 PM EST
Desk
ORLANDO, Fla. -

Nearly 97 percent of Florida teachers were rated as "effective" or "highly effective" under a controversial new evaluation system and for the first time, it was published on the Internet, until it was quickly pulled.

The State Department of Education sent out a media advisory on Tuesday saying the data would be available on its website on Wednesday. According to a department spokesperson, the data was posted for a short time, but was removed because it had factual errors and discrepancies.

The scores released by state officials Wednesday varied widely among school districts, leaving critics to question their validity.  Each school district was allowed to determine their own scoring system, including student performance goals.

The teachers union plans to lobby the Legislature to revise the law it passed last year requiring the new value-added model. The new system has Central Florida teachers riled up, too.

"We've said all along it's not a valid way to teach teaching skills," said Diana Moore, president of the Central Florida Teacher's Association.

State education official Kathy Hebda said Wednesday the tool is a valid assessment and officials were expecting such discrepancies among districts in the first year. She says schools were cautious in assigning baseline grades this year and she expects the grades will gradually improve.

Education officials say the system will hold teachers accountable for student performance.