About a week after an appeals court agreed to hear the Times-Union's lawsuit to obtain the state's value-added teacher data, a bill aimed at exempting the data from the public has been filed in the Legislature.
House Bill 7161 was filed Monday by Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach.
Adkins said she believed the Legislature intended there to be an exemption.
"This is really, in my opinion, consistent with the position of the Legislature when [it] passed the student success act," she said.
Adkins said her bill also codifies the recent Circuit Court's ruling.
The proposal was first put forth by Adkins in the House's education committee where it was passed 13-5.
"It's very unusual and truly unfortunate that someone would try to change the open records laws to prevent the public from seeing this data about their educators," Times-Union Editor Frank Denton said. "We believe in the current law and believe that our court appeal will prevail. I hope the Legislature will support the public's right to see this data about the quality of its teachers."
A spokesman in Gov. Rick Scott's office said Scott would have a statement on the matter Tuesday.
Value-added data is the difference between the learning growth a student makes in a teacher's class and the statistical predicted learning growth the student should have earned based on previous performance. The state uses the most recent three years of data to develop a teacher's average value-added score.
The Times-Union filed a lawsuit for the data after the state failed to comply with a records request. A circuit judge ruled against the newspaper in March, stating that the data was not public record. The 1st District Court of Appeal recently agreed to hear the newspaper's appeal.
A spokesman for the state's teachers union said it supports most of the language in the bill.
"We're largely in favor of it," said Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the Florida Education Association.
The union's legal team joined the Department of Education in opposing the newspaper's lawsuit when it was filed.
Adkins said she was approached by the Department of Education about proposing the bill. She said the union did not reach out to her about the issue.
Pudlow said his organization does have questions, however, about parts of the bill that would open the data up to outside research groups.
All those voting against the committee proposal were Democrats, with two Democats - Reggie Fullwood of Jacksonville and Betty Reed of Tampa - joining Republicans in support of the bill.
"You want to be fair to those evaluated and not have [the evaluations] out there prematurely," said Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, a committee member. "Once it's completed, than absolutely it ought to be out there."
Fullwood could not be reached for comment.
There is no Senate companion bill at this time.
Because the value-added data is developed from an average of three years, the bill would mean the public would have access only to value-added data that's at least four years old.
"This limited period of confidentiality is critical because it allows time for improved performance on the part of the affected education before student performance data is released," the bill states.
The Times-Union argued in Circuit Court that because the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test data used to calculate value-added figures is public and the value-added formula is public, the result created when the state crunches the data for teachers should not be exempt.
The value-added calculation is half of a teacher's total evaluation.
The other half comes from observations made by principals and other personnel.
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Source : http://www.jacksonville.com/news/metro/2013-04-08/story/bill-filed-exempt-floridas-value-added-teacher-data-public