Fla. Education Department: Teacher evaluations to become standard by 2014

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

Beginning this year, it's the teachers’ turn to be graded.

Teachers are sweating out the details of how the grading process will work in school districts throughout the state.

Every county in the state can come up with its own variation of state rules, making the teacher grade card as confusing as a trigonometry exam.

"We worked closely with our teacher unions to come up with agreements on how we would be applying each of the steps," said Vickie Cartwright of Orange County Schools.

For the next two years, each district can use a combination of student Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test scores and evaluations from their principal to get grades -- but not As and Bs.

The grades are ranked as highly effective, effective, needs improvement/developing and unsatisfactory.

Adding to the confusion -- teachers of subjects like physical education and music have their school's FCAT average applied to their grade formula.

Other teachers are judged only on their own students' performance, so a very good music teacher at a very bad school could end up with a bad grade.

That issue has even sparked a lawsuit in Tallahassee, pitting the teachers union against the education department.

"I believe this is something that they're going to be consistently looking at to make sure that they have a system in place that is fair and equitable for our teachers," said Cartwright.

For two years, every district will play by a slightly different set of rules. In 2014, the entire state will have a standard criteria and grading system for its teachers.

Beginning next school year, state law will require that teachers' grades be half determined by standardized test scores and half by their principal's evaluation.