Do instructional coaches help Florida schools?
As Florida's schools increasingly adopt the instructional coach model, Florida lawmakers want to know if they're getting a good return on the money spent.
"I need to know if the little cherubs can read better than they could before the coaches were in place," House Education Committee chairwoman Rep. Marlene O'Toole, R-Lady Lake, said Thursday during a workshop on the issue. "It's an investment issue I want to look at."
Her committee spent about 30 minutes listening to an OPPAGA analyst explaining how districts currently use the coach model. According to the report, 45 districts average one coach per school, while 18 averaged one to two coaches per school. Two districts, Orange and Osceola, averaged more than two coaches per school.
Those coaches spent the majority of their time working with teachers and assisting other endeavors directly affecting the classroom, even though they are not assigned to the classroom.
Rep. Joe Geller, D-Aventura, said he did not want to discount the expense solely because it was not money spent in classrooms. He suggested the coaches, if properly trained, could be "force multipliers" in improving instruction and learning.
"We shouldn't consider that a bad use of money, if they're effective," Geller said.
After the presentation, O'Toole urged committee members to visit schools to learn more about the coach process and how it affects student outcomes.
"We may want to invest more money if this is a successful project," she said.
So far, no bills relating to instructional coaches have been filed.