Duval Teachers Skeptical about Evaluation System; CAST Results Could Be Figured into Size of Pay Raises

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Byline: Teresa Stepzinski

Duval County School Board members Tuesday channeled the fear, uncertainty and negative feedback they've received from many teachers about the school district's state-mandated teacher performance evaluation system.

Teachers will be evaluated based on their students' academic performance over a three-year period, which began this school year, and on classroom observations by their principals. The Collaborative Assessment System for Teachers, or CAST, will be part of a formula determining the teacher's performance rating, which in turn could factor into the size of their raises.

For this school year, observations were completed by April 30, but students' performance data won't be available until the end of August, Sonita Young, the district's chief human resources officer, told the board.

"This needs to be and must be viewed as a professional development tool, and not as a punitive tool," said board member W.C. Gentry. "...aWhat I'm hearing from many, many teachers is they do not view it as a professional development tool."

Gentry asked whether some kind of a peer review could be incorporated into the assessment.

The system, Young said, includes a professional development plan for each teacher. A peer review component, such as that used in Hillsborough County Public Schools, would be expensive to implement, she said.

The teachers union, Duval Teachers United, worked with district officials to develop the plan.

Terrie Brady, president of the union, said the system is still being tweaked. She and Young will review complaints from teachers about their performance ratings to determine whether the evaluation process was applied properly and fairly, she said.

Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals said the new system is "generally so much farther ahead than where we were before. …