Merit Paid Update

This is the first school year Florida teachers will be evaluated based on their students’ test scores. By 2013, teachers can be fired for back to back years of poor scores and in 2014, pay can be cut if students don’t test well. The merit pay system was adopted to pay the best teachers more, but its unclear if there will be any money for merit raises.

After two years of protests from teachers, Florida’s merit pay system is in place. This year half of a teacher’s performance evaluation will be based on student test scores. By 2013 a teacher can be fired for back to back years of poor evaluations and starting in 2014 half a teachers pay will be based on those test scores.

The new merit pay system was billed as a way to reward teachers with the highest performing students. High School history teacher Scott Brown believes in merit pay, but doesn’t think test scores are the best tool to measure teacher’s abilities. “Multiple choice tests are not effective, studies show that.”

Like most teachers in Florida, Brown hasn’t received a raise in four years and wonders where the state legislature will find money to pay high performing teachers. “They’re cutting back government, so I don’t know where they are going to find the money.”

The House Education Committee was briefed on how the merit pay system will work. Rep. Dwight Bullard is a Democrat from Miami. “None of the currently allocated monies are being used for merit pay.”

With four straight years of budget deficits and a lagging economy its unclear where lawmakers will find the money for merit pay raise. One possible source is Race to the Top funds but those dollar are issued by the federal government and aren’t a permanent source of income. The good news is lawmakers have more than two years to find the funds.


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