STAR Program Problems

By: Candace White
By: Candace White

The STAR program was set up by the state legislature to reward the top 25 percent of teachers in the district based on student performance. It may sound like a great idea. But not to the Florida Education Association, which filed a lawsuit Wednesday to block the state from implementing STAR.

At the same time, Bay County School Board members were finalizing the local plan to meet the state's requirements. There aren't many supporters locally, least of all teachers.

"We're being asked to show learning gains of a teacher based on a pre-test and a post-test and yet we're halfway through the school year, so there were no pre-tests given."

Teachers feel the state legislature passed the STAR program too quickly, without specific implementation plans. Many feel STAR will destroy teamwork among teachers.

Leftover bonus money goes to the administrators, who decide where the money goes, and that could create a conflict of interest. Board members believe in rewarding good teachers, but they have their own concerns.

"We have people who mop floors that maintain our buses, they keep AC units functioning and those types of employees that will never ever get an opportunity to a quote bonus; they're never ever considered, and being forced by the legislature to put a plan like this together, which is a good one, puts me in a position where I'm not looking forward to defending it."

"What we're hoping is that saner heads will prevail when the legislature convenes this spring and will put this off for a year to give the district and the union adequate time to work together and come up with a plan that has some validity to it."

Board members will send their STAR plan to the department of education to meet the December 31 deadline. But they also voted to contact State Representative Jimmy Patronis, urging him to propose a better way to reward teachers who are making the grade.

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