District works on teacher scoring
Marc Valero | Highlands TodaySEBRING - Only six teachers out of 840 in the Highlands County School District need improvement, according to a performance appraisal summary the district released Tuesday.
Published: January 17, 2013
Published: January 17, 2013
The data showed no teachers in the "ineffective" category and 99.3 percent of the district's teachers were rated "effective" or "highly effective" for the 2011-12 school year.
Statewide data released in December by the Florida Department of Education showed the vast majority of teachers were rated "effective" or "highly effective" and a very low number fell into the two lower categories of "needs improvement" and "ineffective."
The School Board of Highlands County did not submit any data to the FDOE for the December report, which included some inaccurate data from school districts.
At Tuesday's school board meeting, human resources director Vivianne Waldron said the Highlands district asked for three extensions so it could get its data right.
Teachers are rated according to evaluations from their principals and student performance, such as test scores, which are calculated in a formula called the "value-added model" or VAM score.
Highlands Today asked how or why Lake Country Elementary had nearly 80 percent of its teachers rated "highly effective" when the district average was much lower at 28.2 percent.
Waldron noted the school's accountability grade improved from a "D" to an "A."
"She (Principal Judy Dyer) felt it was a way to reward them for all the hard work that they have done by having them be deemed 'highly effective' in some of those instructional practices areas," Waldron said.
Highlands Today noted the improved student test scores, which led to the "A" grade, would have increased the VAM score in the teacher ratings, but did the school itself also boost the evaluation scores?
Waldron responded, "They did and she (Dyer) felt like her teachers were deserving of that."
Superintendent Wally Cox said the district is continuing to provide training so the evaluations will be more consistent.
Waldron said the "over-inflated rating" subject is an issue with school districts across the state, not just in Highlands, but the district is working on it.
School Board Chairman Andy Tuck said Wednesday that in the original evaluations, 37 of 39 Lake Country Elementary teachers were scored "highly effective" before the VAM scores were included in the evaluations, he said.
"To me that is unrealistic in itself," Tuck said. The person coordinating this evaluation system has said in an open meeting that "highly effective is a place that you will visit, but you will not live there."
Tuck later said that he learned more information and commented that since this was the first year for the evaluation system, "we are continually training our principals on that process."
It's going to take some extra time to train the principals in how to evaluate the teachers with as much objectivity as possible, he said.
Derrell Bryan has been heading the district's effort to implement the performance appraisal system.
"It is extraordinary that we would have a high number in that area," Bryan said, "but in the first year of implementing something like this I am not that disappointed."
The more they work with the evaluation system, the more realistic it will become to teachers and principals of what it means, he said.
"The evaluation system seemed to validate that we have lots of great teachers," Bryan said. "On the other hand, we are too high in the numbers of "effective" and "highly effective."
At Lake Country Elementary he probably would have done the same thing because it was a huge leap from a "D" to an "A" grade, Bryan said. "I am sure that Judy Dyer recognized that all of her teachers performed at an extraordinary level."
Dyer could not be reached for comment.
Senate Bill 736 sets requirements for the implementation of the performance-based compensation system. By July 1, 2014, school districts in Florida must adopt a performance salary schedule for teachers and school administrators.
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