Florida releases value-added data despite objections

Florida has joined New York and Ohio as states to publicly release value-added data on teachers’ performance, despite litigation from the Florida teachers’ union and opposition from such notable education heavyweights as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

What is most contentious is that 70% of teachers in Florida do not teach grades or subjects for which there are statewide standardized tests, which provide the source for the value-added data, yet the data from the 30% who do is still used to represent all of Florida’s teachers.

“So for 70 percent or more of teachers, the VAM does not even attempt to measure the teacher’s actual teaching and yet the VAM data released purports to rank their performance,” said the unions’ statement. “The Legislature openly recognized this flaw last year in passing SB 1664, which requires future VAM scores to be based upon a teacher’s actual students. But most of the data released by the DOE does not take into account the new law, making all of the data meaningless.”

“Once again the state of Florida puts test scores above everything else in public education, and once again it provides false data that misleads more than it informs,” said Andy Ford, the president of the Florida Education Association, in a statement. “When will the DOE stop being beholden to flawed data and when will it start listening to the teachers, education staff professionals, administrators, and parents of Florida?”

It is important to note that the Florida State Department of Education did not approve of the court decision that allowed the release of the data.  In fact, the Florida Times-Union won the court battle, which then meant that the newspaper could publish the value-added data.

The Los Angeles Times won a similar lawsuit in California.

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