Published: Feb 25, 2014 8:20 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Teacher rating scores are in, and they're creating controversy. It's called a VAM score, or Value-Added Model, and teacher's union leaders say the numbers are misleading.

The number were released publically on the Florida Times Union newspaper's website in Jacksonville, after a legal battle. But those numbers are hard to interpret.

The score is based on student standardized test scores and make up half of a teacher's evaluation. The other half is classroom observation from the school principal.

Lee County Teacher's Union President Mark Castellano says, "all of this is based on tests that don't even exist yet and these are tests that are not locally controlled."

These scores could play a role in a teacher's pay next year. "It has put people's livelihoods, teachers' livelihoods at stake on situations they don't control. They can control what goes on in their classroom, and teachers have no problem being held accountable for what happens in their classroom. But when this formula is applied, in many cases, it's school wide reading scores, school wide math scores, so for a teacher teaching a non-FCAT subject, they're being evaluated on not what they're doing in their classroom, but what's happening school wide," he says.

While 90% of Lee County teachers were rated effective or highly effective, Castellano worries about those who weren't, or have inaccurate scores. "People are going to look at it and say 'oh, I love my child's teacher but they got an unsatisfactory VAM score, what does that mean? Does it have any validity?' We've heard from at least 4 or 5 principals that have contacted us and said we have phenomenal teachers who are getting unsatisfactory VAM scores and it doesn't make sense because these people are amazing."

Veterans Park Academy for the Arts kindergarten teacher Joe Camputaro served on a state committe to select the rating system, measuring student growth and accountability. He admits some results are inconsistant.


"There are issues with the VAM but like anything else its a work in progress," he says. "I caution that there's not a knee jerk reaction to the data released. My priority is to make sure that every student who steps through my door gets the best learning experience."

He says the new system doesn't make him nervous, but he expects to see it continue to develop in the coming years. "At the end of the day, I'm still going to be who I am and it's not going to change the way I teach my students," he says.