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Florida Ordered To Release Teacher Evaluation Data

Shawn Bayern

A Florida appeals court has ordered the state to release teacher evaluation data to a Jacksonville newspaper. Florida’s biggest teacher’s union says the data are an unfair representation of teachers and should not be published.

Although teacher evaluations are exempt from public record for one year, circuit court judges ruledso-called “value-added” data are just a component of evaluations and therefore not exempt.

Florida Education Association spokesman Mark Pudlow says using the data to rank teachers would be unfair and misleading. The teachers’ union has fought the value-added model, which is based mainly on FCAT test results.

“They need to be evaluated based on a lot of different criteria. You don’t evaluate a chef, for example, on one dish that they do, their gumbo, and leave out everything else,” Pudlow says.

Lawyers for the Florida Times-Union say the newspaper requested the data to evaluate the state’s controversial new teacher evaluation model. Sandra Chance, executive director of the University of Florida’s Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, agrees the court ruling will allow that.

“I think the availability of these records will help people understand the data that’s being used, how teachers are being evaluated, whether it’s fair, whether it’s not fair, whether it’s accurate or not accurate. Unless we see the records, we have no way of knowing that," Chance says.