Florida has an unusually nutty teacher evaluation program. Jeb Bush and Bill Gates determined some years ago that teachers cause low test scores, so the way to fix education is to fire teachers who don’t get high test scores from their students. There was this little problem: most teachers teach non-tested subjects. So Florida addressed the problem by assigning scores to teachers of students they had never taught.

I mean, really, if your goal is to punish and beat up on teachers, this method makes sense.

But the legislature realized it would have to change this little anomaly because teachers started suing the state. It is kind of hard to defend terminating a teacher who was fired when the scores of students she didn’t teach didn’t go up.

Here is a report from a reader in Florida:

On a slightly higher (mixed blessing) note, the Florida Legislature and Governor have seen fit to fix a huge, gaping flaw in the ALEC/Jeb Bush written teacher evaluation law after the state was widely ridiculed and derided over the ridiculous tenets of the law:


Valerie Straus reported Sunday in the Washington Post that the state decided to fix the part of the law that required teachers (like me) to be evaluated on the test scores of students they had never taught and may have never met for the last 2 years.

Like New York City’s new teacher evaluation program, in Florida you can receive “highly effective” or “effective” ratings on the entire eval but if the school’s average test scores are low you are rated “ineffective” overall and face firing and loss of your teaching certificate after 2 consecutive “ineffective” ratings.

Each of Florida’s 67 counties had to come up with their own way to implement and score the evaluation plan so there is no real standardization at all nor is their consistency and fairness, with the exception of test scores really being 100% of the evaluation.

The VAM formula chosen by the state of Florida is so confusing and scattered that the first year’s evaluations weren’t even released to the teachers until the following year in most districts. My own district gave us 2 sets of evaluations — their own and the state’s because they weren’t sure which was more accurate or acceptable. We haven’t received this year’s evaluations yet; I don’t know if we’ll receive them around Halloween again or when school resumes in August. Know one seems to know.

The law doesn’t address what to do about the deeply flawed evaluations of the last 2 years, however, so the NEA/FEA lawsuit brought by 7 teachers against the state DOE continues.

The bad news is that the state will simply work that much harder and faster to invent untried, unscientific, and unmanageable testing regimes for all the teachers who don’t teach math, reading, writing, or science in grades 3 -12 (the current FCAT 2.0 test’s purview).

I dread seeing what they come up with in haste and without piloting to test Kindergarteners, 1st and 2nd graders, music/art/PE classes, etc. It is destined to be outrageously expensive, be riddled with problems and inaccuracies, and it will fail.

It is also guaranteed that the new system will be punitive and punishing to the teachers who dared object to the hair-brained eval scheme in the first place. That’s how the legislature and Jeb Bush “No Longer Governor But Running for President, So Still In Control” roll down here in the Sunshine State. Jeb has never forgiven the FEA for twice (once, and then again when he and the legislature did an end-run to ignore the law, which was slapped down by the Florida Supreme Court) defeating him on the state’s class size amendment by having voters approve it twice and having it written into the state constitution. He vowed revenge and boy, is he getting it. In spades.