TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Nearly all of Florida's classroom teachers who were evaluated under a contentious new system were given preliminary top rankings of either "effective" or "highly effective."
This is the second year that the state has released the evaluation data, which is partially based on how students fare on annual high-stakes tests.
The ratings released Tuesday showed that nearly 98 percent of the teachers who were evaluated under the system were given one of the top two rankings. Slightly more than 32 percent were given a "highly effective" ranking while nearly 66 percent of teachers earned an "effective" ranking.
Only 306 teachers — out of nearly 190,000 across the state — were given "unsatisfactory" rankings. The Department of Education noted that nearly 14 percent of teachers have not been evaluated yet. The districts have until January to post additional information.
This year's ratings are very similar to ones released in 2012, but it was unclear how much use they would be to parents, who may have a hard time deciphering just what they mean.
That's because the ratings — and the method of arriving at them — varied widely among districts. Some districts reported they had as many as eight times the number of highly effective teachers as other districts.
Okaloosa County, located in the state's Panhandle, reported that slightly more than 85 percent of its classroom teachers earned a ranking of "highly effective" compared to less than 5 percent of the teachers in Pasco County in central Florida.
When asked about the discrepancy, state education officials noted that local districts have a large amount of flexibility in deciding how to evaluate teachers.
The evaluations have come under fire because of the reliance on test scores. The Florida Education Association has called the teacher data based on test scores "deeply flawed."
Last year the state was forced to take down a website containing the evaluation ratings after it came to light that some districts had submitted duplicate information.
A Department of Education spokesman said Tuesday that the state did not anticipate the same problems that occurred last year. Joe Follick said that the districts have had "ample time to review the data they submit." Follick, however, did point out that the data is preliminary and there could be changes as districts continue to submit information.