ORLANDO — New bonus payments aimed at attracting and keeping good teachers in Florida have gone disproportionately to those who work with students from affluent families, an analysis by a Florida newspaper has found.
Teachers who received bonuses under the $44 million "best and brightest" teacher scholarship program started last year were more than twice as likely to work with students from affluent families than with students living in poverty, the Orlando Sentinel reported Sunday.
The report highlights how the bonuses have failed to address the state's long-standing goal of more equitably distributing quality educators.
The findings, says the newspaper, are similar to a study done last year by the Florida Department of Education and national research.
It shows that youngsters in high-poverty schools are less likely to be taught by talented teachers than those on campuses serving more well-off families.
"Florida is definitely not alone," Marni Bromberg, senior research associate at the Education Trust, a Washington, D.C., education advocacy group told the Sentinel. "We see similar trends in states and districts across the country."
The newspaper reports that the "best and brightest" program has been controversial since its creation a year ago, noting that teachers' scores on the ACT or SAT exams — taken when they were applying to college — are factors in when determining bonuses.
State lawmakers told the newspaper that the bonuses, which require both top ACT or SAT scores and a "highly effective" evaluation, attract and keep smart teachers in schools. The Sentinel reported that winning teachers this year each received $8,256.27.