DOE Releases Teacher Data

February 25, 2014

The Florida Department of Education released reams of data Monday on how well teachers did in increasing student learning — but both the agency and the state’s largest teachers union cautioned parents against reading too much into the numbers.

The dizzying array of spreadsheets made public under court order included results for schools, districts and individual teachers. As a result, some of the documents were dauntingly lengthy — in one case, a spreadsheet including results for the state’s math teachers contains 133,580 rows of results.

Compounding the difficulty parents might have sifting through the data: the complicated mathematical formula that the department uses to calculate scores under the “value added” model, which spits out a number for each teacher.

A positive number means that student achievement grew more than would be expected when certain social and demographic factors are taken into account; a negative number means that student learning didn’t do as well as it would be expected to do.

Those numbers are later combined with other elements, such as a principal’s observation of a teacher, to come up with an evaluation for each teacher.

The Department of Education and the Florida Education Association fought to keep the data from being released, but lost a court battle to The Florida Times-Union in November.

“In addition, because these data are intended to be used in conjunction with other information about classroom practice to form a complete evaluation, looking at this information in isolation can lead to misunderstandings about an individual teacher’s overall performance,” Kathy Hebda, chief of staff at the Department of Education, told reporters in a conference call Monday.

The “value added” model was created as part of a performance-pay bill that passed the Legislature in 2011. The FEA, which waged a ferocious fight against the performance-pay measure, maintains that the formula is so flawed and complicated that it is essentially useless.

“Assessments of teachers, like assessments of students, must be valid, transparent and multi-faceted,” FEA President Andy Ford said in a statement Monday. “These VAM calculations are none of these. … They cannot measure the value of an individual teacher”

In November, a unanimous three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal sided with the Times-Union and overturned a Leon County circuit court ruling sealing the records.

The appeals court rejected arguments by the state and a teachers union that the documents should be exempt under a part of state law that shields teacher evaluations from public view until the end of the following school year.

“Had the Legislature wanted any matter material to a teacher’s evaluation to be exempt from disclosure, the Legislature would have exempted personnel files as a whole,” Judge William Van Nortwick wrote for the court. “To the contrary, personnel files of public school teachers are generally subject to disclosure.”

by The News Service of Florida


9 Responses to “DOE Releases Teacher Data”

  1. David Huie Green on February 25th, 2014 10:03 pm


  2. David Huie Green on February 25th, 2014 9:57 pm

    You wondered why some students are not moved forward each grade each year no matter what they did, what they learned, how they progressed. You didn’t word it that way but that is still what you wondered. If the rewording didn’t help you realize the answer, let’s assume students were physically moved forward every year no matter where their minds are.
    The teacher assigns work the social promation students can’t read or understand.
    The sp student is bored because nothing makes the least bit of sense.
    The sp student is mad at the other students who act like it is easy.
    The sp student starts to harass the other students, frightening them, diverting them from learning.
    Rather than being able to teach the other students, the teacher is forced to spend extra time on a student who either could not or would not learn the knowledge which is the foundation of everything which follows.
    The teacher becomes discouraged due to being forced to NOT teach those who wanted to learn but are getting discouraged by the waste of their time also.
    The general public realizes the sp students didn’t learn and feel their money was wasted (which, of course, it was) they reduce support for public education.
    Eventually our society collapses due to the misguided belief failure to learn should mean nothing and have no consequences.

    David for a better world

  3. Dandy on February 25th, 2014 7:49 pm

    I love to read the comments also it seems to always be a childs fault or parents when the desire to learn is not there it seems teachers and others working in the schools are job scared to complain about these issues. The anger a lot of these children come from learned behavior atleast that’s what a teacher told me once so if so many of our children have so many of the same behavior issues throughout the county who could be teaching them this. Mental health issues during the school year would be interesting to know how many student are referred? How many have to be medicated Monday though Friday not on weekends. Does anyone not find it strange that so many third graders have extra help practicing for the FCAT just to be held back. Who pays for extra time after school? It seems to be a money scam. Also teachers always complain about how many students they have maybe that needs to be looked into because if IEPs can’t be followed because of over crowding maybe our districts can get some goverment help.

  4. Susan on February 25th, 2014 6:58 pm

    When the scores are released I am concerned that the general public will misunderstand the data. Your child can make adequate yearly progress (AYP) and still not make the Value Added Model (VAM). Many of our teachers don’t understand this either. The VAM scores are based on a formula that was developed by a statistician from Tennessee. He was paid mega bucks to come up with this and it will take several years for everyone to see that it will not adequately evaluate teachers. Even Bill Gates through his foundation who helped pay for research on VAM has admitted that it should not be a major factor in evaluation. So if you really want to know how well your child does in school, make them pull out their papers and book and explain the daily lessons and if they don’t, make an appointment with the

  5. No Excuses on February 25th, 2014 1:51 pm

    I enjoyed reading many of the pro-teacher comments. I am a teacher. I work with adults because I got out of public education many years back, due to the fact that I could see this coming, and I did not feel safe working with the students that I worked with. I stuck it out for 14 years, and they made progress (at least compared to where they were when I got them), but I would be one of those teachers who would “break even” even though I worked my fanny off for those kids. Some appreciated it, some did not. It all boils down to desire, as The Doer stated. If they want to learn, they will. If they need encouragement, we give it. We can’t MAKE them learn. I am a staunch supporter of my public school teacher peers! You rock! Parents, if you want to know what’s going on with your student’s education, just ask. Most teachers are happy to let you know, and to let you know how YOU can help!

  6. Cushy on February 25th, 2014 1:15 pm

    Children today are made to feel like failures look how many of them are held back it seems that is not the answer. Also look at how many children are put on meds because of issues with school. It was not like this 20 years ago. Holding children back doesn’t seem to help so why are so many held back?

  7. S J Templeton on February 25th, 2014 9:35 am

    I noticed Robert S. made the statement “After all, it is All About Perception”.

    I would hope it is more about how well our kids are performing under certain educators as well as what is being taught, providing children with the tools to continue to be prepared for contribution to society and the economy.

    We, as parents need to determine what type of education our kids are receiving during school hours and is it preparing our children for life ahead. This includes math, English, science, history as well as government. We need to know where we came from to establish a sense of Country and why we need to continue to be the greatest Nation on Earth.

  8. Robert S. on February 25th, 2014 8:26 am

    “The Doer” is very much on point.
    Once again the Fla Legislature has demanded that some meaningless set of measures be used to determine the ability / worth / value of teachers.
    Very similar to the useless results from the FCAT and the “Whatever Test” is next to come up. Legislature feels too many kids don’t meet the “standards” and Florida looks bad then simply change the pass / fail threshold until it looks good.
    After all, it is All About Perception.
    The Florida Legislature and their advisors (one a former governor) are doing their best to herd public school students into charter and private-public-funded schools where the standards are different.
    Teachers, You Are the BEST and no matter what stupid rules the Legislature comes up with you have my highest respect and appreciation.

  9. THE DOER on February 25th, 2014 6:12 am

    The public will wake up when there are very few teachers left to teach our children! Experience matters, and those who are able are hanging it up. The VAM and all of the hoopla that is the so-called evaluation system never even addresses the one thing that matters most in a student’s learning gains: DESIRE.
    So many people say that the teacher should be able to make the student want to learn. This can certainly happen with students who are in the middle and just need a little motivation, but when you have students who could care less about doing well in school, the results are total chaos. As a public educator in this county, I have been teaching for over 20 years, both advanced and regular-track. I have never, ever had so many students who are totally unmotivated; yet this apathy is going to decide my evaluation? Flawed indeed!

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