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Best and Brightest Update

May 29 update: This article has been revised with updated information about changes to the Best and Brightest bonus scheme.

May 23 update: For more information about the settlement to FEA’s Best and Brightest lawsuit see Best and Brightest Lawsuit Questions and Answers.


As you are probably aware, changes are coming to the Best and Brightest bonus scheme. Gone are the ACT/SAT requirements. In their place are three new bonuses: recruitment, retention, and recognition.

While the “recruitment” and “retention” bonuses remain limited to classroom teachers as defined in 1012.01(2)(a), the “recognition” bonus is expanded to include instructional personnel. Along with classroom teachers, school counselors, social workers, career specialists, school psychologists, librarians/media specialists, education paraprofessionals, and “other instructional staff” as defined in 1012.01(2)(d) are eligible for the “recognition” bonus.

Below is a brief description of each of the three new bonuses.

  • “Recruitment”: A one-time bonus of up to $4,000. Newly hired K-12 classroom teacher who is a “content expert” in mathematics, science, computer science, reading or civics.” Since neither the term “newly-hired” nor “content expert” are defined in law, the Department of Education will determine how to identify newly-hired content experts.
  • “Retention”: K-12 classroom teachers who meet all of the following criteria:
    • Rated Highly Effective ($2,500 bonus) or Effective ($1,000 bonus)
    • Taught in the same school for two consecutive years
    • Taught in a school that “improved an average of three percentage points or more in the percentage of total possible points achieved for determining school grades over the prior three years.” Click here to see how many points your school has improved over the past three years. This table is just for illustrative purposes and will need to be updated when school grades are released this summer.
    • Slide 95 (PDF, 73k) of this Florida Department Education presentation (PDF, 9.3 mb) makes it clear that the DOE’s current interpretation of the law means the school must have had an average growth of three points each year. In other words, the school must have grown by at least 9 points during the three-year period in order to be eligible for the . However, this interpretation has not yet been made official.
  • Recognition: K-12 instructional personnel are rated highly effective or effective and are selected by their school principal. Again, this bonus is expanded beyond classroom teachers.
    • The bonus amount is not specified. The amounts will be whatever is left after recruitment and retention monies have been disbursed. At the present, these monies have been allocated by county in the FEFP, although the state might attempt to disburse these awards at the state-level instead.
    • The law does not provide criteria by which principals are to select recipients but does require school boards to adopt policies to determine the criteria. .

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