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Teacher Evaluations Released, Scrutinized By Some Education Groups

Leon County educators are lauding the results of Florida’s teacher evaluations. But, some are questioning whether teachers can possibly be as effective as the ratings suggest.

According to new teacher evaluation data released by the Florida Department of Education, there isn’t a single ineffective teacher in Leon County. About 90-percent of teachers were rated “highly effective” and the rest “effective.” Students First Florida spokesman Lane Wright, raised doubts about evaluation criteria.

“We know that we have some amazing teachers in Florida but, when you look at Leon County for example and you see that we’ve got 99.8 % of teachers rated as highly effective or effective and 45 % of ninth grade student,  for example, in the county aren’t proficient at reading, there’s obviously a flaw in the evaluation system,” Wright said in a phone interview Tuesday.

But David Clark, Leon County Schools Director of Labor Relations, said juxtaposing teacher evaluations with student testing data isn’t a fair comparison.

“When you see conflicting data in either school grades or teacher grades or evaluations or test scores – they don’t all seem to match up. It’s because in a lot of cases we’re doing apples and oranges comparisons and we’re matching things up that don’t necessarily go together,” Clark explained. “We hope that the legislature and the Department of Education and others as we move forward will bring some clarity.”

Clark said a statewide evaluation standard could clear up most of the confusion. Currently school districts have leeway in choosing whether to focus more on student test scores or classroom observations when rating teachers. Leon County uses an evaluation rubric that puts 60% of its emphasis on observation and 40% on testing.