Florida Lawmaker Eyes Performance-Pay Boost
By guest blogger Alyssa Morones
Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford hopes that at least half the money available for teacher salaries in his chamber's proposed new budget will be put toward merit pay, as districts prepare to transition to a state-required salary overhaul for educators, reports NPR.
Education funds will be handed down to districts, which will collectively bargain how the money is spent with their local teachers' union.
"The reason why we like [the proposal] is because it creates flexibility for the district," said Weatherford in an interview with NPR. "We believe merit pay should be a strong component of education funding at the local level."
A 2011 law required the state to establish a growth model to evaluate teachers and administrators based in part on state standardized tests. The model will inform a performance-based pay scale for educators, beginning in July 2014.
In response to this law, the state devised a complicated mathematical formula to measure student growth and evaluate teachers. Those that did not teach a subject tested in Florida's annual assessments would be evaluated using the reading score for the entire school until tests for their subjects were developed.
But after an outcry from educators over this assessment method, the state Senate has moved to update the requirement. A proposal in that chamber specifies that educators teaching noncore classes be judged only on the students they teach. Several more steps are still required, including a vote in the full Senate, before the bill could become law.
The Florida House's proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, beginning July 1, would increase education funding by 6.2 percent to $20.2 billion. Of this, up to $676 million would be available for teacher pay, NPR reported.