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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Gates reforms won't protect weak teachers in Hillsborough



TAMPA -- Hillsborough County teachers voiced relief this week after learning of a potential exemption the district has gained under the state tenure reform bill.

Legislators are proposing to give the district a pass on SB 6 -- which eliminates the tenure protection of multiple-year contracts for new teachers, and bases half their pay on student test scores -- due to Hillsborough's seven-year, $100 million partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

But as we report in Sunday's St. Petersburg Times, struggling teachers may find little comfort in that exemption.

Hillsborough made it crystal clear last fall in its application to the Gates Foundation that teachers would no longer be awarded tenure if their students weren't showing adequate performance gains. And they said they might terminate around 5 percent of the district's 8,500 tenured teachers annually if they couldn't make the grade under the new evaluation system.

District officials now say that those projections might have been too high, and that most struggling teachers will show enough gains -- especially with the support of new peer evaluators -- to keep their jobs.

Still, many of you have asked for a copy of the district's Gates application to decide for yourself, so here it is.  Download Gates application

A few caveats are in order: 

* It was provided to the Times on Oct. 19 -- two months after the district was asked to submit a contract to the foundation as a finalist, and one month before the final grant announcement.

* A few things have changed since that time. An early title for the program - Supporting Teachers to Accelerate Results for Students - has been discarded. And the grant's time frame was changed from five years to seven.

The section on teacher evaluation begins on p. 10, and the termination projections cited by the Times can be found on p. 16.

-- Tom Marshall, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:55am]


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