It’s not a new dance. We did it last year and the year before that. The State of Florida, through its agency the Department of Education, calls the tune every July as it insists, through its governing body the State Board of Education, that public schools that have run afoul of its requirements for improvement must implement the predetermined plan proposed by the school district and approved by the State Board.
Even more, any school in turnaround status (in Duval, that is 21 schools, two of which must be turned over to an outside management company), must make staff changes based upon the Spring FSA results and the resulting VAM scores.
Thus, it is time for the 2018 Surplus Shuffle, when two weeks before teachers return for the new school year, they are informed that they will be moved to another school. Who shuffles in behind them? With less than a week to go before the teachers in the turnaround schools are mandated to begin work (because their turnaround status means that they must start work August 1 for additional training and preparation), the district has yet to learn who the surplused teachers will be.
What are the consequences of these actions and this timeline?
Grumpy Old Teacher has the following questions:
- What subject areas and years are under the surplus mandate? (Is it only FSA subjects, that is, only ELA/Reading grades 3 – 10, Math grades 3-8, and Algebra 1? These are the only subjects/areas where the State provides a VAM score.)
- If the surplus includes other subject areas, how will teacher data scores be determined? Does the district report district test results to the state to allow the state to run the data through its VAM model? Does the district have access to the state VAM model and do its own calculations?
- Given that Superintendent Greene and Duval County put in its plan for the two schools now under new management that they would replace the surplus teachers with only effective or highly effective teachers, as determined by the VAM/student growth scores only, how do they plan to induce such teachers to transfer at this time? Financial incentives? Administrative transfer, in which other teachers will be informed the district has changed their assignment?
- Because the district had not learned from the state as of Thursday, July 25 who the affected teachers are, yet the staff has to report for preplanning Wednesday, August 1 (less than a week), what is the plan for covering the affected positions until the transfers are in place?
- If the three extra days of preplanning are essential for the success of the turnaround schools, how will the schools bring new teachers up-to-speed given that it is almost impossible to have all personnel in place by Wednesday?
- Given the timeline between identifying surplus teachers and the date when new personnel should be in place, what efforts does the district make to anticipate the possible moves it has to make? Does it identify persons for transfer in the Spring, meet with them, and come to an agreement that they will move if needed?
We have seen this before. Florida school districts must comply under regulations set by the Department of Education and approved by the State Board of Education, who themselves are only implementing to the best of their abilities the policy mandates written into law by the Florida legislature.
That reasonable persons, looking at the process and its timeline, wonder exactly who thinks this is going to work is a question that readers should direct to their Florida senators, representatives, and governor.
7. What makes you think that this process will produce improved schools? Cite evidence, included peer-reviewed research by educational experts, that led you to the policy prescriptions you placed into law regarding ‘failing schools,’ including the controversial ‘Schools of Hope’ that you created in the 2017 education bill known as H.B. 7069.
By the way, peer-reviewed research does not mean you read a book by a self-designated reformer.