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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Maybe we should just let principals decide



The state's new teacher-bonus plan puts too much emphasis on standardized tests and not enough on evaluations from principals, Gov. Charlie Crist told the Gradebook today. Offering his most detailed take to date on the Special Teachers Are Rewarded program, Crist said principal evaluations should make up at least 50 percent of the formula that determines which teachers get bonuses. Under STAR, student test scores are the biggest factor.

There are "an awful lot of other components in the evaluation of those teachers that I think people want brought to bear," Crist said after observing a tornado drill at Bay Vista Fundamental Elementary School in St. Petersburg. Student test scores are important, he said, "but so are these other things."

STAR's fate is anybody’s guess. Many teachers hate it. Unions have filed several legal challenges. And key lawmakers, including state Sen. Don Gaetz, who chairs the education committee, say it's likely to be substantially tweaked when the Legislature begins meeting next month.

Teachers, though, shouldn't mistake Crist's critique of STAR's current incarnation as a rejection of the concept. Crist likes the idea of performance pay so much, he wants to double the bonus next year - from 5 percent to 10 percent of base pay - and his proposed budget doubles the current allocation to $295 million.

It's also telling, perhaps, that Crist didn’t include an increase in base pay for teachers in his budget. Asked about that Wednesday, Crist said such an increase may be included in a supplemental budget.

"It probably does, but I want to be prudent," he said. "As you can tell, I'm resisting the temptation to just give an outright 'yes' because I want to make sure that the revenue estimators are confident that we will have enough to be able to do that before we announce we’re going to do it."

- Ron Matus, state education reporter

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:14am]


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