At the Jacksonville-based Florida Times-Union, reporters Kristopher Brooks, Topher Sanders and Denise Amos pointed out that the public release of teacher evaluation results didn’t include “value-added data,” which the paper has sued to obtain.
That article and others also ran through a range of complaints and caveats about the controversial teacher evaluation system, which is slated to shape teacher pay beginning next year. Many of these articles are well executed and capture the ongoing arguments about the evaluation system. They also offer a couple nuggets that help explain why so few teachers are rated as poor: for example, at least a couple districts acknowledged an unwillingness to deliver low ratings, stemming from concerns about inconsistency or unreliability in the evaluation system.
Still, considering the release this week of the PISA results, much of the coverage feels narrower than it might have been. There’s a contentious political debate on the merits of the teacher evaluations, in principle and in practice—reporters know how to cover that story, and they generally covered this week’s news with skepticism.
But part of that argument is about how much stock to put in any method of evaluation. And though the PISA results have their limitations—this was the first year Florida results were broken out; only a few thousand students in state were tested—they offer a useful additional independent data point. The implications of that data might be up for debate, but there was a news opportunity here to tie a couple stories together and enrich the discussion about evaluation and achievement in education. So far that opportunity seems to have been mostly missed, but it’s still available.
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