Teachers, Researchers: SB 736 Takes Wrong Track

If SB 736 is enacted as proposed, thousands of effective Florida teachers will be falsely branded, resulting in unfair decisions about pay and employment, potential lawsuits, and worst of all, lost educational opportunity for tens of thousands of the state’s schoolchildren....

Contact: Mark Pudlow, 850.201.3223 or 850.508.9756

A new report released today (February 22) shows that researchers confirm that teachers make a big difference in how much students learn – even in the most challenging schools.

But while the researchers and Florida teachers who put together the report say that the Legislature’s current reform legislation, SB 736, does not reflect the complexities of teaching in the 21st century. What’s more, the bill runs counter to the powerful teacher development systems found in other nations where students score at the highest levels of academic performance on international tests.


Effective Teachers and Performance Pay represents the efforts of 17 of Florida’s finest teachers – the Florida TeacherSolutions Team -- assisted by Barnett Berry, the president and CEO of the non-profit Center for Teaching Quality. They examined the results of more than 30 of the most significant scientific investigations into teaching effectiveness and performance pay, questioned experts in the field and debated with each other to reach bold recommendations for creating the kind of results-oriented reform that can drive and spread effective teaching.

“If SB 736 is enacted as proposed, thousands of effective Florida teachers will be falsely branded, resulting in unfair decisions about pay and employment, potential lawsuits, and worst of all, lost educational opportunity for tens of thousands of the state’s schoolchildren,” Berry said. “Teaching is far too complicated to make high-stakes decisions about individual performance based on one standardized test, administered once a year. Only highly trained peer evaluators — for which SB 736 does not provide — should determine which teachers are more effective than others. And those evaluators should use a variety of measures to do so, taking into account all the key elements of good teaching.”

As a result of their rigorous research and policy study, they offer the following guidelines for consideration when developing performance pay models:

  • One-size-fits-all plans do not work. Therefore, local districts should have the flexibility to create a fair, equitable, and educationally sound system for student learning and teaching effectiveness.
  • The state and local districts should include teacher leaders in the decision-making process.
  • In order to effect true change, the state and local districts should create teacher development systems, which incorporate performance pay.
  • It is important to get base pay right. Without a competitive base pay, it will become increasingly difficult to recruit teachers – and retain them to ensure long-term school improvement efforts.
  • In many of today’s performance pay plans, only teachers of tested subjects are rewarded for their performance. We want all teachers to have the opportunity to earn incentives.
  • If the state and/or local districts implement the TeacherSolutions, adequate funding must be in place to ensure effective implementation.
  • Given our current budget downturn, the state and local districts should consider ways in which to find new dollars to implement these recommendations. Teachers should not be forced to lose compensation in order to fund these ideas.

With these caveats in mind, the Florida team presents their TeacherSolutions for rewarding student learning, teacher learning, teacher leadership, and market incentives, which include (among others):

  • Using a combination of individual, team, and school rewards for student learning.
  • Identifying three growth targets and allowing teachers to select appropriate metrics for assessment.
  • Utilizing value-added models as one measure of a results-oriented teacher evaluation system, while avoiding their use in automated ways (due to their statistical instability).
  • Developing valid, reliable performance-based assessments.
  • Compensating teachers for content and job-related advanced degrees.
  • Retaining funding for the Dale Hickam Excellent Teaching Program.
  • Providing effective professional teachers with opportunities and compensation for leadership.
  • Offering flexibility and time for teacher leadership, through release from regular classroom duties.
  • Ensuring financial incentives and effective supports are in place for teaching in high-needs schools.
  • Tailoring market incentives to the unique needs of each district.

The full report is available at http://www.teachingquality.org/node/1202.

The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with more than 140,000 members. FEA represents pre K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational support professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.

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