Florida's teacher evaluation system described as "extremely unfair"

4:46 PM, Apr 17, 2013   |    comments
Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett (pictured in another event) says he's confident lawmakers will fix the law.
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Tallahassee, Florida -- How would you feel if your job's salary depended on the work of your co-workers?

That is the crazy situation teachers say they are facing under Florida's new teacher evaluation system.

So teachers have filed a federal lawsuit, arguing the evaluations force some of them to be assessed on the performance of students who aren't even in their classes.

The system was established as part of merit-pay legislation passed by state lawmakers last year.

Florida Education Association President Andy Ford calls it an absurd evaluation system.

"It is extremely unfair and the lawsuit contends that it violates the due process provision of the United States Constitution."

State lawmakers are currently debating proposed legislation that would eliminate the situation where teachers are assessed based on the performance of students in other classes.

Ford calls the bill a step in the right direction, but he's concerned because the measure is moving slowly and there are only two weeks left in the legislative session.

"It does address the situation of teachers being evaluated on students that they don't have. But it's not moving yet. We still have a couple weeks to go. The best system that would be in place would be one that the locals would develop instead of trying to have a statewide system."

Gov. Rick Scott says he supports the proposed legislation to make evaluations fairer for teachers.

"I've not had one teacher that said they don't want to be evaluated. They want to make sure it's fair. They want to make sure they're evaluated based on their students' achievement and we're aggressively working on legislation that I think is going to move us down that path."

Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett says he's confident lawmakers will fix the law.

"We continue to work through the issues with the Legislature. I think many of the issues will be addressed, if not all of them will be addressed in the legislative process. So we look forward to putting it behind us in pretty short order."

Ford says the federal lawsuit will continue regardless of whether the Legislature changes the merit-pay law.

Dave Heller

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