John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida
Miami teacher Brigette Kinney qualifies for a new state bonus program, but disagrees with the concept.
In Brigette Kinney’s design class at Ada Merritt K-8 center in Miami, one of the key concepts is editing and revising ideas after getting feedback.
Her 8th graders created role-playing games based on books they read. And then adjust the games, after watching their classmates play.
Kinney hopes Florida lawmakers will be as open to change as her students.
“I feel that legislators are out of touch with what it means to be a good teacher,” she said.
Kinney was talking about the new program called the “Best and Brightest Scholarships.” It’s not not actually a scholarship. It’s bonuses for teachers based on how they did on the SATs and ACTs. And they could get as much as ten thousand dollars.
To get the money, teachers need to have scored in the top twenty percent when they took the college placement exams. They also have to earn the state’s top teacher rating – “highly effective.”
Lawmakers in Tallahassee earmarked $44 million in the state budget for the bonuses.
But to get them, many teachers have to track down scores they may not have seen since high school.
South Florida school districts will start adding a seal to high school diplomas of students who prove they are fluent in English and another language. Ten states have approved the designation, and six Florida districts are certifying bilingual students. Advocates want Florida to pass a law as well.
Less than one in three students in the 50 largest U.S. cities take the SAT or ACT college entrance exams. In Tampa, it’s 18.5 percent, Jacksonville 16.7 percent and Miami 14.1 percent of students. The report from the Center for Reinventing Public Education highlights a number of disparities between schools in cities and schools elsewhere.
Florida education policies, including Common Core-based standards, testing and school grades, could be big issues in both Democratic and Republican state legislative races next year. The field could also be expanded, with all 160 up fro grabs depending on how the redistricting process works out.
The first results from the Florida Standards Assessments have been sent to school districts.
Florida school districts received the first round of test results from the Florida Standards Assessments this week.
The results show what percentage of students in each district scored within each quartile of all Florida students taking the exams. Parents can expect more detailed scores for their students next month.
The state is now setting cut scores for the the exams, which will determine what percentage of students are meeting state goals. Eventually, the state plans to issue A-to-F grades for every public school that will include Florida Standards Assessments results.
State superintendents have objected to those grades, arguing problems during spring testing and a recent review of the exam make the test results unreliable.
For years, lawmakers have chipped away at a constitutional amendment limiting class sizes. They’ve added exemptions and loopholes. But a Boca Raton dad has filed a lawsuit because his son’s kindergarten class has too many students.
The Palm Beach County school board is challenging a state law after the State Board of Education overruled a decision to reject a new charter school. The Palm Beach school board argues they have the exclusive right to establish and oversee charter schools in the district.
John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida
Miami teacher Brigette Kinney holds copies of her GRE scores and the state law creating the new teacher bonus program. She qualifies for the bonus -- up to $10,000, depending on how many teachers qualify -- but may not be able to compete the paperwork in time.
Miami teacher Brigette Kinney said she doesn’t always hear about school news when classes are out for the summer.
So Kinney missed the word that lawmakers set aside $44 million for bonuses based on SAT and ACT scores during a special summer budget session. Teachers who scored in the top 20 percent the year they took the exam and earned a “highly effective” teacher evaluation are eligible.
But Kinney said she didn’t learn about the bonuses until she returned to school in August — and that may have been too late.
The deadline to apply for the scholarships is Thursday. Kinney meets the requirements, but she’s not sure if her scores will arrive in time.
“I was told it would take two to four weeks to get my score, which I knew was going to be very tight” said Kinney, who teaches English and design in the International Baccalaureate program at Ada Merritt K-8 center.
Groups who work with immigrants say they are having a tough time enrolling in Collier County schools. The school district has been accused of denying immigrant students their right to an education guaranteed by state and federal laws.
Students might not have to take as many exams testing the same material if legislative leaders get their way. The bill wouldn’t eliminate the Florida Standards Assessments, but could let schools substitute other test scores.