Will bigger bonuses for Florida AP teachers help?
The only new idea that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist rolled out in his not-a-lot-of-details PreK-12 education budget plan this week was this one: Raising the amount of bonus money that Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate teachers get for each student who gets a qualifying score on AP and IB exams, and eliminating the $2,000 cap that is now in place.
AP and IB teachers currently get $50 for each student who gets a qualifying score. And it's not clear how much more Crist will be pushing for (or lawmakers may go for).
Data collected by The Gradebook (and crunched by St. Petersburg Times researcher extraordinaire Connie Humburg) shows only a small percentage of AP teachers in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties bump up against the cap. In Pinellas last year, 24 AP teachers hit the $2,000 mark. In Hillsborough, it was 55. In total, 158 Pinellas teachers and 388 Hillsborough teachers got something from the program.
Had the cap not been in place, those "capped" teachers would have earned an extra $77,800 between them - or roughly $1,000 more each, on average. In total, Pinellas and Hillsborough AP teachers earned $545,200 in bonuses. We don't have the bonus data statewide (we'd have to collect it from all 67 school districts), but it's a safe bet that removing the cap alone won't cost the state too much money.
Here's what we want to know from AP teachers out there: Are the bonuses much of an incentive? Will removing the cap make a difference? Will upping the per-passed-test amount make a difference? How much would be a good amount? Or is the whole idea of performance bonuses for AP teachers (who are are being asked to do an awful lot lately) hopelessly flawed?
(Photo from www.braindash.com)