Saturday, October 1, 2011

Speed bump: New teacher evaluation process in Brevard County, Florida

A front page story in the paper edition of the Florida Today caught my eye today in the supermarket. "Teaching tool or trouble brewing?" describes the implementation of the new requirements for teacher evaluation in Brevard County, Florida schools. By 2014, this evaluation system will be used to create a merit pay system, which will affect teacher pay in accordance with recent legislation. So far, the article has not appeared in electronic format.

According to the article, "school board members have heard that the evaluation process is not being consistently implemented in the schools - leading to frustration and confusion among some of the 5,000 teachers." The process speed bump seems to center on the teacher-written professional growth plan, which accounts for 50% of the evaluation procedure. Teachers in the district report different directions on how to proceed with professional growth plans, apparently at the school level. School district official, Joy Salamone, said the district would fix the issues if the union provided specifics.

The Florida Today article described at least two specific incidents in adequate fashion for the district to act. The new process is a dramatic change, so confusion can be expected. While teachers and administrators should be focused on school students, their attention is diverted to non-instructional tasks. Let's hope the school district can create and maintain an atmosphere where confusions can be clarified without fear and without substantial time taken from classroom instruction.

The other 50% of teacher evaluation will be based on student performance results on FCAT reading scores or standardized end-of-course exams. It is still unclear, at least to this community member, how student performance will apply to P.E. teachers and special education teachers and how the algorithm will be developed.

It is refreshing to see the Florida Today do some reporting on educational issues and hope they do more.

Reference: Ryan, Mackenzie, "Teaching tool or trouble brewing?," Florida Today, October 1, 2011.

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