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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Teacher resigns before they can be surplussed, says "teachers are more than VAM scores"

At the behest of the state the Duval County school district surplussed several dozen teachers on Friday based on their VAM scores a measurement which has been widely discredited and is even being phased out. This happened just two days before they were supposed to report.

I don't want to excuse the district however as their response to the state saying, Jump, was to ask, how high? Furthermore they treated this major upheaval in people's life in a ho hum fashion.  One teacher however had already resigned before she should be surplussed. She has a powerful message not just for her co-workers who were surplussed but for all of us. Note: I did some minor formatting changes and a few light edits but the message was not changed one bit.

By Kimberly Coral

Yesterday (Saturday August 5th) I heard the most heartbreaking news about some of my fellow coworkers. I heard that seven teachers from my school were just reassigned to other schools. 

I started asking questions to figure out what was going on. Come to find out, these teachers were sent an email and/or received a phone call from the district Friday afternoon. We start school on Monday. 

The district indicated that based on their VAM scores (a complicated mathematical formula which doesn't take into account poverty and is used to predict how students performed on the state test), they were being administratively reassigned to another school. 

I couldn't believe it.

Is this even allowed to happen? 

Do they know how hard it is for a Title 1 school to get teachers? 

Now you are getting rid of seven of them and there is no discussion about them being replaced. 

I was told six names and I just sat their heartbroken for them. Then the 7th name was released. It was my own. 

I have worked for this county for 14 years, at the same school for 13. I have blood, sweat, and tears all over that building. I was the 7th teacher. I felt this rush of embarrassment, hoping no one would find out. How long could I keep this a secret? Is this how the rest of them felt as well? Was I such a horrible teacher that they classified me as the low of the low in the county? Did they see me as a failure? Did they think I just sat around all day doing nothing? Did they think I didn't stay up until two in the morning several nights a week to get lessons finished? Did they think that I didn't volunteer for countless school activities after my work hours were complete? Did I not take my planning time to allow children extra time in the classroom? Did I not take time to mentor other new teachers? What about the highly effective comments on my evaluations? Did they not see the hours that I poured into someone else's child, but sometimes couldn't give to my own? No, they don't know any of that. 

I was only judged based on student scores from a state test. Now it was time to be judged again. 

I can just imagine myself walking into my new school with all of the things that I have accumulated over the last 14 years, feeling like I had a scarlet letter imprinted somewhere for the whole school to see. They would all know why I was transferred there. I would have to prove myself again to a new principal, new teachers, new parents. I would be known as the teacher who was reassigned because I couldn't cut it at a D school--no, I was the teacher that made it a D school. Then, I came back to reality and realized that my name was on this list, but I didn't have to face this situation. 

I resigned just 4 days before I was going to get this email or phone call, before my life was about to change without me having any say in the matter. I was able to do something else that I love, be with my daughter while she goes to preschool, and watch another little boy for a friend. I got out in time. I chose my next move. Me, not my VAM score! But, for those other 6 teachers, and all of the others in this county that just had a life altering phone call.I am so very sorry you are having to go through this and I truly feel heartbroken that you were pushed out of your home because of a test score. 

Those VAM scores aren't your identity! Don't let the scores make you feel defeated! Don't let those same feelings that rushed into me overcome you! 

If you are one of those schools getting a teacher who is reassigned, please be kind, accept them with open arms and help them through this process. You know it takes more than a VAM score to make a teacher. The teachers I know are some of the hardest workers you will ever meet. They are not losers, they do not wear a scarlet "L" on their chest. They did not bring the school grade down. It takes a village to do that (the district, principals, teachers, students, and parents). We are all in this together! You don't know the situation in their classrooms, the students that were not any where near grade level, the first year teacher who was assigned multiple grades and had to keep adapting to new situations, starting new grade levels each year and not getting acclimated in time, and the countless other reasons that a VAM score can't determine a teacher's value. 

I am beyond heartbroken for this change that just does not feel fair. I feel so grateful that my path has led me in a new direction. Sometimes you want a clear sign that lets you know that you made the right decision. I can only thank God for the clear message He sent yesterday when I heard I was number 7.


  1. This just makes me sad. You don't have to look very far to understand why there are so many vacancies and why education is a declining degree.

  2. Retaliation in full effect. Those legislators must be upset so many of these high poverty schools made gainz last year.

  3. Kudos to you, Ms. Corral, for having the guts to stand up and give teachers a voice.

  4. Well said! Frankly, I don't understand the reasoning behind moving Teachers from a school and put them elsewhere. Then in all their wisdom bring in probably newbie teachers. smh

  5. So very proud of you Kim! I couldn't have worked with a better teacher when I started years ago. You are one of the best teachers I've ever worked with! You get them girl!