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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Ed commish: Teacher bill is 'groundbreaking'



From Florida Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith in a written statement after the Senate vote:

I commend the Florida Senate for passing a measure today that, if ultimately placed into law, will fundamentally improve the work going on in our classrooms and the overall achievement of our children. Senate Bill 736 is groundbreaking legislation for our state, requiring a fair and accurate evaluation of our teachers that thoughtfully links their performance to the academic achievement of their students.
“Simply put, our current system of evaluation is not useful. It relies primarily, if not solely on subjective observation, and fails to connect our teachers to the work of their students. This legislation allows us to address that deficiency and gives us the capability to finally recognize and reward our most effective teachers for the incredible job they are doing.

From the Senate President's office:

With bipartisan support, the Florida Senate today took steps to help Florida’s students compete on the global playing field with the passage of Senate Bill 736, the Student Success Act, sponsored by Senator Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville. The bill rewards teachers who help students make learning gains by giving student success a more important role in the evaluation process.
“The Student Success Act helps Florida move to a higher standard,” said Senate President Mike Haridopolos following the bill’s passage. “Senator Wise has done an outstanding job of making this bill’s process one of collective input, resulting in what will be an effective policy for our state. As the Governor and lawmakers work on ways to improve the economy and attract people to Florida, the implementation of the Student Success Act will contribute to our competitiveness in attracting individuals to move to and stay in our state to raise families and build livelihoods.”
Florida has no shortage of hardworking, excellent teachers – the state ranks well nationally in terms of educational success.  However, Florida’s current evaluation system for the teaching profession lacks financial incentives for measurable achievement, provisions for accountability and opportunities for growth. Senate Bill 736 revamps this system, requiring that a teacher’s or school administrator’s evaluation have a more objective component with student performance counting toward 50 percent of the evaluation. It also takes into account the many factors which contribute to student performance results.
The Student Success Act creates a new, robust evaluation system for teachers, instructional personnel and school administrators; establishes new ways to reward teachers and administrators who help students learn; and modernizes Florida’s instructional workforce by ensuring that employment decisions are determined primarily on a teacher’s demonstrated effectiveness.
“In order to reach the highest level of student success, we must provide every opportunity to attract and keep the highest quality teachers in front of our classrooms,” said Wise, a former educator.

From the House Majority Office, after the House committee vote:

Florida House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R-Miami) today issued the following statement regarding the Education Committee’s passing of HB 7019 Education Personnel on Student Success and Teacher Quality.
“The Student Success and Teacher Quality bill had overwhelming public support in committee today with 13 individuals sharing public testimony, 11 in favor and only two against. The key to real progress in education reform is retaining our state’s best and brightest educators by rewarding high-performing teachers. This legislation properly rewards those successful teachers and keeps them in the classrooms with students who need them the most.
“Additionally, it aligns educator performance evaluations and compensation systems with the agreements already contained in the Race to the Top grant program.  School districts and charter schools will adopt instructional personnel and school administrator performance evaluation systems that are at least 50% based on student learning growth, recognizing each student’s unique starting point.
“By filling our classrooms with high performing teachers, we will give every child in Florida both the opportunity to receive a quality education and the best chance for future success.”

From Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future, after the House committee vote:

“Today is a great day for the future of Florida’s education and economy,” said Patricia Levesque, Executive Director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future.  “Teachers are the most important factor in the classroom.  HB 7019 will foster and promote a dynamic, highly-skilled workforce of educators – this is critical for the future success of our students and economy.  I thank the members of the House Education Committee for giving our excellent teachers the recognition and compensation they deserve.”

Florida has dramatically improved the quality of education during the past decade, but our work is far from finished.  Initiatives like HB 7019 move Florida further down the path of improving education and rewarding quality teachers.  The Foundation looks forward to working with members of the Florida Legislature to continue improving education in Florida..

[Last modified: Thursday, March 10, 2011 4:00pm]


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