Here is a comment from a first-year teacher who knows more than the “reformers” who wrote the laws in Florida.

I can go one better — in my district here in southwestern Florida 50% of my final evaluation for the year will be based upon the test scores of children in grades 4 and 5. I taught 2nd grade this year. This is my first year at this school.So, in effect, half of my ‘effectiveness’ as a teacher is to be determined by test scores from students I’ve NEVER taught and most of whom I’ve NEVER even met.How anyone could keep a straight face and maintain any moral integrity while telling me that this is a ‘fair system’ is beyond my understanding yet this is the program that my betters in the district office produced, the state of Florida approved, and the U.S. Dept. of Education accepted as meeting the requirements of Race to the Top.How could I have added ‘value’ or subtracted ‘value’ to students I’ve never even spoken to or been with in a classroom? Osmosis?He later sent me this correction:Diane, I’m flattered that you chose to highlight my comment. Thanks! Just a slight correction — I’m not a first year teacher, just new to this school. I’ve actually been teaching for 15 years, always in Title I schools.I’m National Board Certified, hold 2 MA’s (one from NYU) and was named Social Studies Teacher of the Year for my district last year.

I fully expect my final rating to be “Needs Improvement” or “Ineffective” though, when the test scores are added in to my ‘value’, since the state saw fit to raise the bar so high for passing and they made the FCAT test far more difficult this year. My principal actually rated me ‘highly effective’ based upon her numerous formal and informal observations and review of my teaching portfolio but that only counts for half so . . . .

Looks like the writing is on the wall and it’s time to start looking for employment outside the school system. That makes me very sad and sick at heart but I don’t see anything changing for the better any time soon. After 2 years of low ratings in Florida now you lose your professional teaching certificate and can be fired at will. Everyone who can is retiring or has retired. Those of us in the middle or just starting out are just stuck.

Where are our professional organizations and unions? Why aren’t they fighting hard to help us? Inquiring minds would like to know.