Latest VAM Scores Place Some Baker County Teachers On Top

Dec 12, 2014

Controversial data on Florida’s school teachers are now public after a legal battle last year. 

The Florida Times-Union released the so-called "value-added" scores of nearly 80,000 teachers across the state Wednesday.

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The data reveal nearly half the teachers in Northeast Florida have impacted student achievement growth.

Baker County Middle School teacher Tara Rhoden topped the list. She, along with fellow Baker County teachers Kristen Dyal and Lisa Mobley, have some of the top 100 VAM scores in the state.

Baker County Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson said she wasn’t surprised.

"I didn’t need a VAM score to validate what I already knew about these teachers and what they are doing in their classrooms," she said.

The score accounts for half of a teacher’s overall evaluation and can affect their salaries. The complicated formula measures a student’s expected test score against his or her actual results, accounting for factors like a student’s English Language Learning status and mobility.

But teachers’ unions and some experts argue the model is deeply flawed. The Florida Education Association filed an unsuccessful lawsuit that prompted lawmakers this year to change the way teachers are evaluated.

Overall, Baker County ranked 11th in the state for teacher VAM scores. Nearby St. Johns ranked second in the state.

But larger, more urban Duval County, ranked 55th in the state and fifth among the state’s seven largest districts.

Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti did not return requests for comment for this story.

Baker Superintendent Raulerson said while the district’s scores are encouraging, you can’t put a number on a teacher’s true impact.

"There’s just so many things that teachers do on an everyday basis that you just can’t measure," she said.

You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.