Florida releases performance scores for teachers

Department of Education sued to make results public

Published On: Feb 24 2014 08:37:31 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 24 2014 08:42:23 PM EST
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

Florida parents may get a chance for the first time to see how more than 100,000 teachers across the state performed under a complex formula designed to help evaluate how well students are learning.

The Florida Department of Education on Monday reluctantly released performance scores for roughly two-thirds of the state's teachers after losing a lawsuit over whether the information was public.

The Florida Times-Union in October 2012 first asked for the information, which the state had planned to use as part of a contentious new evaluation system for teachers. An appeals court sided with the newspaper late last year.

The teacher scores are meant to measure how much a teacher either helped or detracted a student from learning. The teacher scores are based primarily on how well students did on standardized tests such as the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test or FCAT. The education department released scores dating back to 2011.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart told teachers that the department would not post the individual teacher scores on its website, but told them the news media would likely release them.

State education officials as well as school district superintendents tried to caution against drawing conclusions based on the data, since the scores make up only 50 percent of the information used to annually evaluate teachers.

Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association, went further and called it "flawed" and "meaningless." The teacher's union had joined with the state in trying to block the release of the scores.

"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," Ford said.

The Florida Times-Union did its own analysis of the released data and reported that last year 58 percent of school districts in Florida saw a majority of their teachers receive scores below statewide norms.