Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

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Karla Mats, teacher

How Florida Teachers Are Evaluated, Paid

Background

Fifty percent of a teacher’s evaluation is based on a formula called the Value Added Model. It predicts how students should score on the state’s standardized exam – the FCAT, and rates teachers based on how well their students measured up to the predicted FCAT score.

The other 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation comes from principal observations by school principals.

By 2014, teachers evaluation will determine how much teachers get paid and whether they keep their jobs.

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

Here’s what has changed:

  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.Read more »
  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.

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