The Florida Department of Education’s pursuit of teacher assessment based on his or her students’ performance on FCAT math and reading results is being called “slanderous and humiliating” by a Central Florida music instructor.
Boone High School music teacher Kevin Strang says standardized test results in FCAT or any future Common Core testing should not impact any teacher evaluation in art, physical education or music.
“I don’t believe the quality of my instruction which is good, has anything to do with student’s reading and math scores on standardized tests,” he said.
Florida teachers are evaluated in part by the Value Added Model, or VAM.
The Department of Florida Education says the VAM is based on the “learning growth” of a teacher’s student compared to similar students in the state.
So if a teacher’s students don’t do well on a standardized test no matter what you teach your evaluation is impacted by your students’ scores.
Last year 40 of Strang’s music students did not perform well on FCAT reading and math leaving him with a -11 percent VAM score.
The state education website explains the VAM-FCAT equation saying, “ If a teacher's value-added score is 10, that means students taught by that teacher, on average, demonstrated learning growth of 10 points on the developmental scale higher than expected for similar students in the state.”
Kim Cook, an elementary school teacher in Alachua County, is one of seven teachers who have filed a lawsuit against Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.
In an email to Local 6 Cook writes, ”The Florida Legislature passed a bill in haste last year that requires school districts to tie test scores to the students they actually teach; however, that has not resolved the issues for most teachers.”
In Cook’s view, teachers' VAM scores have “little or no correlation to the actual subject for which the teacher is responsible.”
Strang says the fact that his negative VAM score is posted on the internet creates an embarrassing situation. If a parent sees that he says, they could assume he’s “not a very good teacher.”
“To me it makes no sense," Strang says. "It’s slanderous and humiliating.”
Joe Follick, the communication director for the Florida Dept. of Education says the Department will review Strang’s case and “do our best to explain how the VAM scoring works.
Click here to see teacher VAM scores.