State Law Requires Duval To Change How Some Teachers Are Evaluated

Dec 19, 2016

The Duval County School Board recently changed the way many teachers are evaluated.

Teachers will get more credit for student improvement — while at the same time getting penalized more when students fall behind.

Under the new scheme, teachers’ student achievement scores — which used to be based on the percentage of students who meet expected scores — now reflect how much their students differ from the expected scores.

The state-mandated change is in the way student performance is calculated. It will affect teachers who teach subjects with state tests, including many math classes.

Teachers who teach these subjects get a Value-Added Model score. VAM is a formula to determine a teacher’s impact on student growth by measuring a student’s expected test score against their actual score.

The expected test score is figured out by taking into account factors like how other “similar” students performed on the test and if the student has any disabilities.

Teachers who teach other subjects that don’t require state testing, like health, get a “growth score” determined by district tests at the beginning and end of the school year.  

Those who teach a combination of VAM and growth classes get a score combining both evaluations.  

Another state-mandated change will affect teachers who are new to the district. Those teachers are evaluated mid-year and at the end of the year. Going forward, Duval Schools will be required to report more details of their mid-year evaluations to the state.

Duval Teachers Union President Terrie Brady said teachers continue to have problems with the value-added evaluation system, even with the new tweaks. One reason is teachers don’t get their scores until midway through the following school year, so they don’t have time to change their actions before a new evaluation period begins.

“There’s no way that a teacher or even a student or a parent can see those tests or those test items that they missed so they can A, improve upon the test or B, that teachers can strengthen and alter their teaching presentation so that it doesn’t occur this year,” she said.

And she said the scores aren’t reflective of an entire year’s work. Students take them three-quarters of the way into the year, meaning any gains they make at the end of the year aren’t factored in. Plus, she said, teacher raises depend on the scores.

The factors included in the evaluation remain the same. Five percent of the score reflects whether the teacher achieved his or her own goals set during the year in what’s called an Individual Professional Development Plan. Forty-five percent is the principal’s evaluation, and the remaining 50 percent is how students perform.

Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.