#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?


#EduChat, International Education, The New Florida Standards

Push to Implement Common Core “Idiotic” “Without Real Scrutiny or Debate”

  • From Terri (Planning2Learn):
  • I have never seen a reflection about the Common Core so succinct as this. During my MA class on Curriculum Design at Oxford Brookes, we discussed the value and appropriateness of America having a national curriculum like they do in England.
  • My professor was surprized the US did not have a NC. However, when we discussed the size and diversity of our country, similar to Europe, it didn’t seem necessary or appropriate. Something I learned was the unique powers and rights reserved for States…and I do wonder the lasting effects a national government tightly defining individual student learning, experiences, assessments will have overall.  Does greater control equal greater creativity?  I’m not sure.
  • However, I am disappointed to learn that much of the development was behind closed doors and that our math standards are not high enough. I intend to look deeper into that.

Scathing Purple Musings

Three influential education policy experts penned an opinion piece for the New York Daily News in which they effectively explain why the “backlash” against Common Core standards “is now in full swing.” Former U.S. assistant secretary of education and Hoover Institute fellow Williamsom Evers joined CATO Institute scholar Neal McCluskey and one-time Massachusetts associate education commissioner Sandra Stotsky gave five compelling reasons why CCS needs to be set aside:

First, creation and adoption of these standards has violated the traditions of open debate and citizen control that are supposed to undergird public schooling.

Though preliminary drafts of the standards were released to the public, the standards were written behind closed doors by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers — private organizations — and copyrighted. There is also no public record of the meetings available.

Adoption was then strong-armed by the Obama administration via Race to…

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Florida Education, Using Data in the Classroom

Florida BOE Wants Changes to School Grade Formula….Again

Scathing Purple Musings

Writes Jeff Solochek in the Tampa Bay Times:

Florida’s A-F school grading system, respected and copied in other states, faces a credibility test here where it began.

For the second straight year, the state Board of Education is contemplating possible revisions to the grading calculation because of concerns that the test scores they’re based on could make the schools look bad.

A year ago, board members lowered the FCAT writing passing score after learning that students fared poorly under stricter standards and school grades would likely suffer. This year, the board directed that a task force look into superintendents’ concerns that a return to tougher policies threatened to drive up the number of F schools.

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This is a good followup. This lady is such a good example… Bullied bus monitor says she won’t keep all the money that was raised for her online – NY Daily News

Bullied bus monitor says she won’t keep all the money that was raised for her online

More than $650,000 has been donated to the Karen Klein, who was teased mercilessly by students she was looking after. The incident was recorded in a video that went viral.

Comments (7)


Monday, June 25, 2012, 2:30 PM










Bus monitor Karen Klein is set to receive over $600,000 from an online fundraising campaign that was launched in response to a viral video that shows four student bullies tormenting the 68-year-old.

The bus monitor who received an outpouring of donations after being mercilessly driven to tears by four student bullies says she won’t pocket the entire six-figure sum.

Karen Klein, of Greece, N.Y., will invest some of the $648,091 — and counting — raised on her behalf in an online campaign, and donate the rest to charities.

“I keep thinking, ‘What have I done?’” the 68-year-old told Ann Curry during an interview on the “Today” show Monday. “It’s like I almost don’t feel like I deserve it.”

The viral charity drive, which kicked off last Wednesday after a cell phone video of the horrific treatment was posted online, was originally designed to send Klein on “a vacation of a lifetime.”


Since then, 28,000 people have made donations through Indiegogo.com, giving the upstate widdow the option of retiring. The grandmother of eight, who hasn’t decided whether she’ll return to her job in the fall, said she’ll also give some of the money to her family because “they need, they need, they need.”

Klein said during the interview that the touching support she’s received has gone beyond just dollars and cents.

“I’ve gotten so many notes from people who have been bullied, who’ve been very hurt, and my heart goes out to these people,” Klein said. “What I am glad about is the fact that it has come out, and everyone knows what goes on.”

More than 7 million people have viewed the 10-minute clip, titled “Making the bus monitor cry,” which shows students from Athena Middle School in suburban Rochester harrasing Klein about her weight and age, and accusing her of wanting to rape children.

School officials said the bullies will face disciplinary action when school resumes in September, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Two of the boys have since apologized in a statement.



via Bullied bus monitor says she won’t keep all the money that was raised for her online – NY Daily News.


Without a school degree, unemployment & job insecurity !

Totally agree. However, I would like to see more career based qualifications besides the college degree.


It’s just a big puzzle – the new PGP process

Figuring out how to make it fit together
while working with other people & so many parts!

I have been working through my PGP process and working to figure out how to collaborate better with teachers throughout the grade levels for K-2 Science and Gifted.  I also have been working to come up to speed on Gifted guidelines and will be finishing EPs for new staffing and one re-eval.  I need to create a gifted brochure and create a checklist to have at new meetings.  There is one in my training package…so I’m not re-inventing anything..just need to have one in hand specific to our use.

This has been a busy and reflective week.  On Monday, my admin provided feedback on Science Labs.  I need to get more hands-on fast!  The first week I spent on lab safety and the 2nd week I spent discussing the standards and benchmarks with grades 1st and 2nd.  What was pretty exciting was how the 2nd graders noticed the limited planetary science benchmarks.  So we worked to review all the standards and they choose what they would like to learn under the benchmarks we were to learn.  They even worked to reword a benchmark into their language.
I need to figure out how to integrate hands-on in the lab next year at a quicker pace but not lose the introduction of standards…because it is important to me to continue involving students in the understanding of their learning.
I have much to do this weekend. I worked on reformatting the county dimensions so I could edit them for evidence and reflection like I had the core standards available to me in England. This process reminds me ALOT of my QTS program…and I find it interesting that the county will expect teachers to work through it annually.  I could see bi-annually…but it will be ALOT of work.  It took me 2 years in England.
We shall see.
I did use the feedback from my admin this week in my planning.  Actually, my science coordinator and I had already talked about the concern last week on Thursday in detail.  So my weekly plans this week (3) already included more hands on activities.  I read through some posts on the NSTA website and am interested in reading a specific post by a science teacher who jumps right in to hands on at the new year.
I have been reflecting a great deal on my PGP…more on that tomorrow. Need to run!