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DOE Forced to Release Teachers’ Flawed VAM Scores
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DOE Forced to Release Teachers’ Flawed VAM Scores

Today the Florida DOE is releasing to the press individual VAM data on teachers.  Both the DOE and the Florida Education Association (FEA) fought against the release, but the courts ruled that such information, regardless of its validity, is a public record.
Teachers will receive an email from the DOE Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart informing them that today, “the department is providing these data, as required by the First District Court of Appeals, to the media who have requested it. We expect this information will be posted online and individual teacher names and value-added data will be publicly available.”
For many teachers, this is another stress factor to an already stressful job since the numbers to be released are subject to misinterpretation and are not in the proper context. USEP President Lynne Webb and Superintendent Kurt Browning have discussed the release of the data and share the concern that teachers will be demoralized and
the public will not understand
the context in which to interpret the data.
Accountability is a must; however, assessments of teachers, like assessments of students, must be valid, transparent and multi-faceted.  These value-added model calculations are none of these and are just one part of a highly complex accountability system that has endured ongoing problems, including reliance on FCAT and school grades.  

Just look at the formula. 

It is ludicrous to try to determine the value of a teacher using a formula that is comprehensible only to a small number of statisticians. With the problems that the DOE has been having with data on testing and school grades, there is little confidence in these complex figures used to determine a teacher’s evaluation.

Research has shown that even the most sophisticated and valid VAM measurements are limited in what they can measure.  But Florida’s VAM formula is not valid; it is
deeply flawed
in practice. For example, the two-year cumulative number includes data from 2009-10, before the law even went into effect, calculated after the fact with gaping holes of missing data and little or no roster verification.

The numbers released by the DOE are subject to misinterpretation.  It is USEP’s hope that any publication of these numbers makes it fully clear how little meaning these numbers have in determining the quality of an individual teacher.
If there is any consolation, perhaps the outcry as a result of the VAM going public will finally prompt that the full accountability system be examined and reimagined. 

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