New Best & Brightest promotes teachers to be hired based on youth SAT/ACT grades

New Best & Brightest promotes teachers to be hired based on youth SAT/ACT grades

Untitled-1The Best & Brightest Teacher Bonus program has been controversial from the moment it was rolled out.  Proponents claim the program is to help attract and retain highly qualified teachers in Florida.  To qualify for the bonus a teacher must have scored at the 80th percentile or higher on their personal SAT or ACT test scores.  These tests were taken largely by these teachers when they were in high school, often a requirement for college entrance (but not in all situations).  If a teacher scored in the 80th percentile and was evaluated as highly qualified, that teacher would receive over $6,000 plus for the year.  The Legislature premise is that smart people (those that scored well as teenagers) are better teachers.  Among the many flaws is that people that score well on a standardize test are not necessarily smarter or better teachers, just better test takers.  In addition, these tests were never designed to be used in the manner that now the way the state of Florida is using them, some ten, twenty or even thirty years later,

In 2017 the Florida Legislature in House Bill 7069 expanded the program from $40 million to over $200 million. They also added a new option, that Principals (but not assistant principals) can qualify to receive a Best & Brightest bonus of $5,000 plus.

How a Principal qualifies for Best & Brightest is as headshaking and concerning as the original Best & Brightest.  A mathematical determination will be made comparing all the Best & Brightest teachers in Florida.  If the ratio of Best & Brightest teachers to total amount of teachers in a school is at or above the 80th percentile in the state when compared to elementary, middle, or high schools, then the principal receives the Best & Brightest Principal Scholarship.  Language in the statue states, “…faculty at the principal’s school must have a ratio of best and brightest teachers to other classroom teachers that is at the 80th percentile or higher, statewide, for that school type (elementary, middle, high, or combination)”.  The more Best & Brightest teachers at the principal’s school the more likely the principal should be to qualify for the Best & Brightest bonus.  This would mean that the more teachers at a particular school with high SAT or ACT scores, the more likely a principal could qualify for Best & Brightest.

Is the legislature saying that principals should use SAT and ACT scores when a teacher was in high school as part of the determining factor when hiring a teacher?  Seems that this formula and the Best & Brightest program would suggest that.

While I have faith that administrators in Citrus County will continue hiring teachers based on who is best for our students and their schools.  It is concerning that the state would develop a bonus model that would focus on the hiring of teachers based on tests they took as high schoolers.

If the Florida Legislature is truly interested in helping attract and retain high qualified teachers in Florida it can start by removing the decade long targeting and attacks on public education.  It can reverse the multitude of overreaching classroom mandates.  Eliminate tying teachers’ salaries, bonus and steps to students’ scores.

To fund the $200 million for their Best & Brightest program have had to reduce funding in other areas.  The appropriation would better serve our students, schools and teachers to increase the funding in the Base Student Allocation where we know better locally how it can be more cost effectively used to positively impact our students and teachers.

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