Teachers Share Concerns Over VAM

Share Your VAM Story: Contact Governor Scott. Let him know the impact the Value Added Model (VAM) has had on your evaluation, your students and your teaching career. 

   xxxxxxxxx FEA President Andy Ford with Florida Teachers Bev Kurak
x Margaret Goodwin Polly Burkhart Melissa Stokes

Listen to their stories

Florida teachers continue to question the validity of the Value Added Model (VAM) and its impact on their evaluations. The majority are just now receiving their evaluation results from last year. Many have found problems with their evaluations, including:

•    district requirements to set ranges countywide even though the calculation is computed within the school, forcing an apples-to-oranges comparison;
•    being assessed on students that have never been assigned to their classrooms;
•    teachers such as guidance counselors, deans, K-3 teachers, literacy coaches, etc… had to base 50% of their evaluation on the school wide scores when there is no direct correlation between the school and the individual teacher performance;
•    the St. Johns County School district Teacher the Year who previously had “highly effective” observable scores received an effective VAM score, but because she was now the literacy coach she was required to be evaluated on school scores. St. Johns schools have been the top performing district in the State for the past four years.  How can the district wide teacher of the year in the number one district be rated as just “effective”?

In response, President Ford is asking all school district employees who receive district evaluations to contact the Governor's office to share their stories about VAM and the impact it has had on their students and their jobs.

Six teachers from across the state faced news cameras and reporters on Tuesday to express various concerns over the use of VAM to determine 50 percent of their annual evaluation. They say they are the real life examples of the unintended consequences of using an unscientific and unproven evaluation system. Florida teachers are concerned because the evaluations will be used to determine which teachers are retained and who will receive merit pay. The Florida Department of Education has admitted the implementation of their own system has flaws. The U.S. DOE has estimated that VAM will be wrong 25% of the time.

  • Dawn Chapman, president of the St. Johns Education Association. St. Johns has been the state's top performing school district over the past 5 years. Chapman has received numerous complaints from concerned teachers who have found problems with their evaluation.
  • Margaret Goodwin is an award-winning teacher from Pinellas County who does not teach a FCAT subject. Goodwin received a “needs improvement” evaluation because her VAM scores were determined on a school-wide average which negatively impacted her assessment. She said she was astonished when she saw the score because in 40 years of teaching, she has never received lesSs than a top notch evaluation.
  • Nathalie Faulk, a French and biology teacher at Yulee High School, was docked on her evaluation because of VAM numbers, even though nine out of ten of her students have passed their end of course exams.
  • Melissa Stokes, a fourth grade teacher from Hilliard, shared the dynamics behind her student's lives. More than half of her class is homeless.  
  • Polly Burkhart, a science coach at an elementary school in Polk County saw her evaluation drop because she was evaluated on the reading and math scores of the school, despite the fact that in science, her school scored above the state average.
  • Bev Kurak, who deals strictly with students with behavioral problems and prepares them for reentrance into the general student population, is still waiting to receive last year's evaluation rankings. Her school district hasn’t figured out how to evaluate her because the FCAT scores don’t apply to her students.

FEA President Andy Ford said: “What you have just heard proves that this teacher evaluation system imposed under SB 736 is not ready for prime time. It clearly is a flawed process that needs much tweaking and revamping before teachers and parents can trust in the validity of the value added model. … We are not afraid of accountability – we welcome it. But it is essential that everyone believes in the evaluation system and that it accurately reflects what we accomplish in the classroom.”

FEA has received hundreds of concerned calls from teachers with students who are not required to take the FCAT. The biggest concern is how the information will be used when compiled with three years of data as required by SB-736 to determine the retention and future pay for that teacher.

Recently, President Andy Ford urged Governor Scott to place a moratorium on the use of VAM until there is clear and convincing research on the proven merits of the use of VAM to improve student learning and teaching performance, as well as sufficient data and a capable infrastructure to implement a timely, accurate statistical process.

Both the Governor and FL. Education Commissioner Pam Stewart denied the request stating the FLDOE is required by law to report the approval and implementation status of each school district's instructional personnel and school administrator evaluation system and aggregated performance results to the Governor, the Speaker of the House, and the President of the Senate. The FLDOE will continue to provide districts with analyses and assistance to ensure these systems will meet the requirements of the law, Race to the Top, and their local school system goals.

Florida teachers are calling the VAM a value negative model, claiming it makes the state evaluation process unfair, unreliable and educationally unsound. In response, President Ford is asking all school district employees who receive district evaluations to contact the Governor's office to share their stories about VAM and the impact it has had on their students and their jobs.

Contact Governor Rick Scott:
Executive Office of Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001.

Phone: (850) 488-7146
Email: http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/
   Send a Tweet to: @flgovscott
   Join the Facebook conversation at: http://www.facebook.com/scottforflorida

Related Articles:

FEA President Asks Governor to Suspend VAM: Includes correspondence with Gov. Scott

VAM, the New Teacher Evaluation System, Stirs Concern, Confusion

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