HOUSE PASSES TRANSFORMATIONAL EDUCATION REFORMS TO REWARD EXCELLENT TEACHERS, RAISE STANDARDS AND RIGHT SIZE THE CLASS SIZE AMENDMENTApril 9, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida House today passed a transformational education package that right sizes the Class Size Amendment, raises standards for Florida students to better prepare them for the careers of the future, and rewards Florida teachers for excellence in the classroom. Representative Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel), Representative John Legg (R-Port Richey) and House Majority Leader Adam Hasner (R-Delray Beach) issued the following joint statement on the passage of the education reforms:
“In order to provide a first-rate learning experience for our children, we must have policies that are practical and applicable. Our proposal provides school districts with the flexibility to do just that as it relates to the Class Size Amendment,” said Representative Weatherford. “By right sizing the Class Size Amendment, school districts will have the flexibility to focus on student gains and reward excellent teachers as we endeavor to provide our children with a world-class education taught by world-class teachers.”
“The most important factor that we can control in education is the quality of a teacher at the front of the classroom. By financially rewarding educators for their expertise and excellence, we will be better positioned to attract and retain the best and brightest teachers here in Florida,” said Representative Legg. “Providing financial incentives for teachers who make the decision to serve in high priority schools and critical shortage areas is a quantum leap forward toward continuing to decrease the gap between the highest performing schools and the lowest. I commend my House colleagues for making the right decision to the benefit of our children.”
“If we really mean what we say about transforming Florida’s education system for the challenges of 21st century, then the status quo is unacceptable,” said Representative Hasner. “The education reforms passed today in the Florida House will raise the bar for our teachers and reward those who excel in the classroom. The reforms will create a classroom environment that provides Florida’s school districts with the flexibility they need to free up critical funding to be spent in the classroom at a time when money is scarce,” concluded Hasner.
House Bill 7189 by Representative John Legg
These common sense education reforms are about investing in what’s best for our children and working to reward our teachers for what truly matters in education: individual student learning gains.
This legislation is focused on making sure that we encourage our best teachers to stay in the classroom and not feel that to move up they need to become administrators or leave teaching altogether.
We can build more and more schools, we can make class sizes even smaller, but if we don’t have quality teachers leading our classrooms – teachers that can ensure that our students are making learning gains each year – then Florida’s children will be unprepared to compete with students around rest of the world in the global economy for the high-paying careers of the future.
Performance and Differentiated Pay
HB 7189 requires districts to adopt salary schedules that determine salary increases based on performance, while salary increases are currently based on seniority. These performance appraisals will be based on two categories: 50 percent will be based on student learning gains and the remainder on other factors regarding classroom practices including classroom management and knowledge of subject matter. Individual student progress is a fair and objective measure of teacher performance. All students are capable of learning gains and rewarding our teachers for their success in the classroom provides recognition great teachers deserve.
This legislation also requires districts to award differentiated pay based on high-priority locations, critical teacher shortage areas, or additional academic responsibilities. Educators who teach in lower performing schools, in high clinical subject matters such as science, technology, and mathematics, or with students with special needs, or those who take on additional responsibilities such as mentoring other teachers deserve to be rewarded for this. By recognizing the additional workload teachers in these positions shoulder, we can encourage more teachers to take on these positions in order to better prepare all students to be successful and continue to decrease the gap between the highest performing schools and the lowest.
Additionally, HB 7189 bases school administrator salary increases on the progress of the school as a whole. This system further incentivizes principals to recruit and retain the best teachers available.
1. HB 7189 raises the pay of our quality teachers and it DOES NOT reduce pay for any teacher in the state.
2. NO current Teacher will lose their tenure status.
3. Teachers who work with learning disabled or lower performing students will benefit from the bill.
4. Teachers will not be punished for students who enter their classroom performing below grade level.
5. The bill takes into consideration exceptional circumstances.
6. Test scores are NOT the only measure of teacher success.
7. The bill does not affect teacher pension or retirement benefits.
8. These reforms are not an unfunded mandate.
9. By rewarding teachers who provides a quality education for our students, teacher collaboration is not in jeopardy.
HB 7189 does the following:
- Requires at least half of the annual evaluation to be based on individual student progress, also called student learning gains, (essentially how much a student learns during the school year as measured by standardized tests), starting in 2014 – 2015 school year. Currently, no data on student learning is required as part of a teacher or administrator evaluation.
- Allows districts to use three consecutive years of data to measure learning gains.
- Requires classroom teachers to be evaluated based on progress of students in their class.
- Requires administrators and non-classroom teachers to be evaluated on average student learning gain of students school-wide.
- Requires two evaluations in the first year for new teachers, teachers from other states, and teachers who have not taught within five years.
- Requires evaluations to have four levels of performance – highly effective, effective, needs improvement and unsatisfactory– which will be defined by the Department of Education in collaboration with teachers and compensation experts.
- Requires school districts to adopt a salary schedule based upon the new 4-level evaluation system.
- Requires higher salaries for teachers and administrators who:
- are assigned to a low-income or low-performing school (i.e., high need schools),
- teach in subject that has a shortage of teachers such as math or science (i.e., high need subject areas), or are assigned additional academic responsibility.
- Allows educational degrees to be considered in setting the salary schedule.
- Prohibits the use of years of service in setting the salary schedule; however, a district can provide raises based upon the “years of student progress” when determining pay.
- Establishes a dedicated pool of funding, equal to 5% of the total state, local, and federal public school funding (approximately $900 million) to:
- Provide salary increases for teachers in high need schools or high need subject areas
- Provide salary increases for teachers whose students are making progress (teachers who are rated highly effective or effective on the new evaluation system)
- Develop end-of-course assessments to measure individual student progress,
Myth vs. Fact: The Truth about Reform
Myth: The bill slashes salaries for teachers.
Fact: The bill pays good teachers more by creating a special fund, starting at $900 million, to provide higher salaries for teachers in high-poverty schools, teachers of subjects such as math and science that are in high demand, and teachers whose students learn at least a year’s worth of knowledge in a year’s time.
Myth: The bill will chase great teachers out of the classroom.
Fact: Great teachers care about student achievement. The bill will reward them with the ability to make more money based on their skills.
Myth: The bill will hurt recruiting of great teachers.
Fact: Providing teachers with more money is a great recruiting tool.
Myth: The bill penalizes teachers who don’t have any control over what students come into their class.
Fact: Florida’s progress during the last decade proves all students can learn, regardless of the challenges they may face outside the classroom. Evaluating teachers based on progress (what a student learns), not proficiency or achievement (what a student knows), focuses on what the student learned during a year in the classroom. In fact, students who are below grade level often make more progress under an effective teacher, and this bill rewards those teachers who help our most vulnerable students. Those teachers could actually earn more than teachers of students who are on or above grade level.
Myth: This reform is a purely partisan effort.
Fact: Both Democrats and Republicans are advocating for the use of student test scores to measure teacher effectiveness. Reforms advocates include President Barack Obama, the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the Gates Foundation. Florida’s business community has called on the Legislature to act on these issues. In their report Closing the Talent Gap, the Florida Council of 100 and the Florida Chamber of Commerce called for these reforms. The Florida Senate issued Interim Study 2010-213 studying teacher quality in 2009.
Myth: The bill eliminates tenure in Florida.
Fact: The bill doesn’t eliminate tenure for teachers in the classroom today. The courts have determined that tenure is a property right and can’t be taken away by the Legislature. The bill does end the practice of granting lifetime guarantee of employment after just three years in the classroom. Instead, new teachers will have annual performance contracts.
Myth: It’s unfair to base teacher evaluations on student learning.
Fact: Right now, teacher performance reviews are based on the observations and opinions of their principal – making these evaluations 100% subjective. Using data for 50% of the annual performance review makes the evaluation more objective – and therefore, more fair.
Myth: The bill will hurt our chances of getting federal funding under Race to the Top.
Fact: The bill will help Florida in the competition for federal funding under Race to the Top. President Obama’s Race to the Top program calls for improving teacher effectiveness based on performance, including evaluation systems that take into account data on student growth as a significant factor, providing opportunities for highly effective teachers to obtain additional compensation and considering whether to grant tenure based on rigorous standards and removing ineffective tenured and untenured teachers after they have had ample opportunity to improve.
Myth: Annual tests are not a good measure of teacher effectiveness.
Fact: Annual tests are an objective measure of the knowledge and skills students gain from one year to the next. If you believe teachers impact how much a student learns, then annual tests that measure progress are an objective measure of their effectiveness in the classroom.