Putting Education Reform To The Test


SB 736 - The Student Success Act Outlines How Florida Teachers Get Paid


The first bill Gov. Rick Scott signed into law, SB 736 rewrote how teachers are paid and retained across the state.

The Florida Education Association has filed a lawsuit challenging the law, arguing the law unconstitutionally strips teachers or their ability to negotiate pay.

The bill makes a number of sweeping, statewide changes including:

  1. Rating teacher performance. The law requires districts to rate teachers and administrators annually, according to a legislative analysis, with half of their score based on student Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test Performance over a three-year period.
    Districts can negotiate the remaining half of the rating with teachers, but it should be based on instructional practice or leadership. For non-FCAT classes, such as physical education or art, districts have until 2014–2015 to develop and implement tests.
  2. How teachers are paid. New hires will no longer have to climb the decades-long seniority ladder to earn the highest salaries. Now, the highest-rated teachers can earn the top salaries just a few years out of college. Highly-rated teachers already working can opt out of the merit pay system — but if they switch districts they would be paid on their performance, according to a United Teachers of Dade Q & A. Teachers will also no longer be guaranteed additional pay for advanced degrees.
  3. Job security. New hires will no longer enjoy long-term contracts, but instead must be rehired on an annual basis. Those already teaching are again exempted from the new law, but teachers who switch districts would then move to annual contracts.
  4. Political motivations. Lawmakers approved the law, in part, to reinforce a $700 million federal Race To The Top grant, according to the legislative analysis. Districts will use half that grant to design, implement and fund the first three years of their performance pay systems.
  5. The goal. Reformers believe boosting pay will draw better quality teachers to the field, and that better teachers will produce better student results.

Latest Posts

Two New Studies Find Problems With Teacher Evaluations

Two new national studies raise questions about the how accurate modern teacher evaluations are. The first study, from the University of Southern California’s Morgan Polikoff and the University of Pennsylvania’s Andrew Porter, finds test-based evaluation scores have little to no link to other teacher quality measures, such as how well instruction matches standards and the […]

The Florida Education Stories To Watch In 2014

Implementing New Common Core Standards Florida is one of 45 states that have fully adopted new math, English and literacy standards known as Common Core. Political opposition to the standards built throughout the year in both Florida and across the country. Every Florida grade is scheduled to switch to the new standards this fall. The […]

School Funding, Teacher Evaluations Key Issues Early in Governor’s Race

Charlie Crist has to close a sale. The one-time Republican governor now wants to become governor as a Democrat. But he needs to convince Democrats he’s now one of them if he has any chance of challenging Republican Gov. Rick Scott. It’s why Crist is talking about his education record during the early days of […]

Teachers Praise Gov. Scott in New Online Ad

The Republican Party of Florida is out with a new web ad featuring teachers praising Gov. Rick Scott. The teachers aren’t identified, but appear to have been recorded at the recent teacher summit Scott hosted in Tallahassee. Most of the teachers thank Scott for investing in education, particularly his push for across-the-board raises. “I think […]

What The Florida Teacher Evaluation Lawsuit Could Mean For Other States

The Florida Education Association’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s test-based teacher evaluations — if successful — could become a model for teacher’s union across the country, Governing magazine reports. And over at the Quick and the Ed, labor attorney Danny Rosenthal argues the FEA normally would have a difficult time proving the government […]

Study: Error Rate Of Test-Based Teacher Evaluations High, But Might Still Be More Accurate

A new study says error rates for teacher evaluations based on student test scores is “quite high,” but that the evaluations may still be more accurate than traditional measures. The study, by Dan Goldhaber of the University of Washington-Bothell and Susanna Loeb, of Stanford University, might be cited as evidence as Florida’s largest teacher’s union challenges […]

Teachers Union Files Federal Lawsuit Challenging Florida Teacher Evaluations

The Florida Education Association and National Education Association filed a federal lawsuit today challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s teacher evaluation system. The system was created under a law passed in 2011 known as Senate Bill 736. State law requires school districts base at least 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation on student Florida Comprehensive Assessment […]

Lawmaker Files Bill To Exempt Teacher Evaluation Data From Public Records

A Florida lawmaker has filed a bill which would keep teacher evaluation data private, according to the Florida Times-Union. The bill, filed by Fernandina Beach Republican Janet Adkins, is in response to a Florida Times-Union lawsuit seeking the data under state public records laws. At issue are “value-added scores,” which uses a complex statistical formula […]

House Speaker On Proposed Budget: ‘Education Is The Big Winner’

The Florida House has released its proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Speaker Will Weatherford says education was prioritized over everything else. “The big winner is education,” Weatherford said. “We invested over a billion dollars into our K-12 education system from last year.” He said that amounts to a 6.2 percent increase […]

Governor: ‘We Don’t Want A War On Teachers; We Want A War On Failure’

Gov. Rick Scott delivered his State of the State speech this morning before the Florida Legislature. After thanking lawmakers and family members, education was first on Scott’s agenda. He said he has two priorities for growing the economy: remove the sales tax on manufacturing equipment, and invest in teachers by providing them “a well-deserved pay […]

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »