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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Senate Education chairman files his teacher pay bill



Jacksonville Republican Steve Wise, chairman of the Senate Pre-K-12 Committee, spent last week quizzing school teachers, superintendents, education activists, union chiefs and others about the best way to reform teacher pay, contract, evaluation and other key issues.

This week, he filed his bill on the subject. He's calling it the "Race to the Top for Student Success Act," and he's said his goal is to find a more equitable way to get more effective teachers into schools  than what lawmakers pushed last year in Senate Bill 6.

Some of the key questions he focused on were how to fairly evaluate teachers of students with special needs, and those who teach subjects that are not easily tested. This bill aims to answer those concerns.

Among the highlights, the bill would:

  • Require multiple sources of performance data in assessing teachers, not just one.
  • Use the performance data for at least 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation rating, preferably using at least three years' worth of results. If three years of data are not available, a district may reduce that percentage.
  • Establish a "needs improvement" rating for teachers.
  • Require districts to set "measurable learning targets" based on their school's improvement plan and approved by the principal, for teachers who are in classes that do not have adopted assessments.
  • Have all districts establish a performance based salary schedule by 2014, with a grandfathered pay schedule for employees hired before July 1, 2014.
  • Allow added pay for advanced degrees if the degrees are in a teacher's area of certification.

There's plenty more. And it's just the first stab at this thorny issue. Expect lots of debate, many amendments and much give-and-take with the House, which has yet to unveil its version (though early indications seem to point toward some iteration of language being floated by Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future, which isn't the same as this one.)

Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 6:30am]


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