#EduChat, 2013 to 2014, 4th grade, Assessment for Learning, Florida Education, Gifted Education, Teacher Evaluation, Using Data in the Classroom

No…I am, was, could be…one of the worst teachers in my state! Florida VAM #higherED Where are you?

I read Simone Ryal’s post today…http://simoneryals.blogspot.com/2014/02/im-one-of-worst-teachers-in-my-state.html

Then KAFKAteach’s post: http://kafkateach.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/gosh-damn-thats-a-bad-vam/?relatedposts_exclude=732

I know Valerie Strauss stepped up to the plate: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/25/the-most-meaningless-teacher-evaluation-exercise-ever/?wp_login_redirect=0

However, at the end of the day, the State of Florida has data that says I am not a valuable teacher. 😦  In fact, I’m pretty bad according to them.

Tuesday, after the Florida Writes, I was tired.  It is a tough writing test to work towards because 3rd grade teachers, rightly so, spend so much time hitting reading for the Reading FCAT – writing is not their focus.  So in 4th grade, we have from August to February to get students writing a solid, organized, fluent, well-developed 4 to 5 paragraph essay that ‘feels whole’ and has vivid detail.

So, it’s kind of the night that should be about kicking back and taking a deep breath.  I’m so proud of my students.  They worked hard.

But, I heard the VAM scores were out.  I looked myself up. I love teaching, I get good results, I work hard, tutor after school, help my students achieve their best…or at least try…right? How bad could it be?

I was devastated.

(In the end, the district said the data on the website below was “nothing related to reality…all over the place…and inaccurate.”)

These are my 2011 to 2012 Scores right from the site.  I was a Kindergarten through Second Grade (Year 1 to Year 3) Science Teacher (No FCAT tests in those grades) and a Gifted Pullout Teacher for 1st through 6th.  I saw the GSP students for 3 hours a week total.

My scores show I taught 41 reading and 41 math students for a combined total of 8200%.  My reading VAM was -15% and my math was -0.042  My VAM combined was -9%.  I was one of the lowest ranked teachers in my school.  I’m not sure who the students are that I received my grades from.  I was one of the lowest teachers…so it couldn’t be a grade level score or a school score.  It’s just my score.  (I don’t want to be a GSP pullout teacher again!  NO WAY!)


In 2012 to 2013, my scored looked like this…

I was a 4th grade reading teacher for 44 students.  The entire 4th grade had 87.  I only taught 44.

According to the state, I taught 81 reading students and 4100% math students for a combined total of 122!  My VAM reading was -9% (I’ll round-up) and math was -4%.

I looked up the science teacher because I taught reading to my 22 home room students and her 22 home room students.  Her VAM states that she only taught 44 students in reading and had a positive reading VAM of 10% (I’ll round-up).  Although she saw all 87 students in the 4th grade for science only…she had no math scores?

But I only taught our 44 students reading…no math…no 81 students…and not all the 87 in our grade level.

I really don’t understand.  How can she show positive reading gains on students I taught…yet I show negative reading and math gains on more that the students I taught?

And where did the math come from?

And why does it not appear across the board for our whole team of 4.


I did forward the data to my district, my boss…I was truly prepared to apologize to my students and parents….because in this age of accountability…I am terrible right?  I really intend to apologize to my family.  You know how many times I am grading or planning or researching for my classroom?  (Or buying?)  And for what?  I am significantly below the expectation for value.  I am not just maintaining the standard…I am more that 10% below expectation.  I am a “Loser” – Big ‘L’ – that was the sign for the day as we passed through the halls.

Wednesday was a dark day.

Isn’t the assumption that the State of Florida, who is going to use this data to assess me and decide any future raises…who will use this data as 50% of my teacher evaluation…isn’t there accountability for them for accuracy?  Honestly, it felt terrible…but I didn’t truly believe it was wrong.  I don’t still understand it…but I assumed the state would not give out wrong data. Right?

I am truly grateful for my administration, district accountability team…and my teammates.  Even when I was  (not am) a ‘negative’ VAM…they still encouraged and were supportive.  However, it was devastating.  I didn’t look up my teammates in my new school.  However, I guess there are quite a few that join me in the VAM ‘pit’.

I can tell you…as someone that loves teaching and that works so hard… it’s just sad.  For our whole team…it’s just sad.  As someone who has spent too much time and money on teaching and could spend more time on family and self…it feels like I made a big, long-term mistake.

In the end, the district said the data on the website was “nothing related to reality…all over the place…and inaccurate.”

According to the district, my VAM scores for the last 2 years were positive.  Marginally so… between 0 and 1.  We had VAM scores over in England and the range was between those values…so I think I’m where I need to be…but always have room to improve.  The district said I was right where I needed to be.

Ok…at least I’m not hurting the children I teach?  Because for a second there…  I want to be improving their lives…ugh.  I’m grateful for my district…but I’m at a loss for the on-line data published.

I still don’t know what to think.  However, it has really been on my mind. I need to re-group and re-focus on my students and my job. I have an observation on Tuesday…I have the FCAT reading and math in 2 months…tests that will determine the next round of scores, that I am sure, will be published.  Is this process supposed to make me better?  Because right now…it’s not.

I have 5 students with perfect scores in my class right now.  Imagine… ‘I’ have to maintain that.  I was up for the challenge and have monitored, tracked, differentiated, taught them metacognition, assessment for learning, choice, critical thinking…and hopefully, a love to learn.

I love to teach! I felt like I wanted to be an astronaut and did work in space…but this profession was just so dynamic and working with children such a joy.  Never did I ever think…I would be labeled a ‘loser’ on the world-wide web. 😦  I wanted to teach teachers…I’m not sure that’s the best option for teachers right now.

I am blessed…and I will refocus….I always do.  But there is something different this time.  I’m not sure about teaching for the first time.  I need to step back.

I do have a challenge though…

I challenge higher education to step in…true researchers and teachers…to give us researched based practices.  I challenge parents to help those who love their children.  We need education professionals, not politicians, to have a strong voice in Education.  We need people like Cambridge and Harvard, Stanford, USC, UCLA, Columbia, UCF…all these universities and more to step forward to lead us – at a national level….at a local level.  I want to hear from you!  Not Scott, Bush, and all the others benefitting from the sale of education…but true educational researchers leading us with strong, research based practices.  Isn’t that what you ask of us?

Gates Foundation…I believed it you!  Rick Stiggins, Black and Wiiam, HELP! Howard Gardner… if it’s right, if this is valuable…then so be it.  But it’s its not…please let us hear from you.  Where are all our great leaders in Education?

Also, I truly wish, these political ‘leaders’ would be required to step inside the classroom for a full FCAT cycle.  Then let’s see their VAM scores.

Higher Education….where are you?



2 thoughts on “No…I am, was, could be…one of the worst teachers in my state! Florida VAM #higherED Where are you?”

  1. So many of us work so hard, plan when we aren’t at school, and put our whole heart and soul into our student’s learning. I am so disheartened by this system. Disappointed that so much here is at stake. The investment of money for my degree, the time it took, the hours spent in and out of the classroom….so many variables that cannot be measured by VAM. I do feel beaten by the system.

    1. You are in my heart and prayers! It was so hard to see those scores and i understand the hurt. I felt really down until someone at work pointed out that I wasn’t being a good role model – this is someone who feels I am a strong, caring, and respected teacher. It really made me think. I am not sure of the next steps for helping improve or make changes to this system….but I have really honed my focus on my classroom and continue to find joy with my students and within my school.

      Sending you a BIG virtual hug with hopes that out next year will be better.

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