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Florida Errs on Teacher Pay, Plans to Reward Teachers for Old Test Scores

Mobridge-Pollock is smarter than Florida. The Florida Legislature has authorized spending $44 million to raise some teachers’ pay. The “Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarships” will go to teachers not for taking more classes but for receiving “highly effective” evaluation ratings and for having high SAT or ACT scores.

No, not their students’ SATs and ACTs; their own:

To qualify, a teacher must receive a “highly effective” evaluation rating and have scored at or above the 80th percentile on the SAT or ACT they took in high school. For new teachers, just the test score would count [Jeffrey S. Solochek, “Questions Abound for New Program That Rewards Teachers Based on SAT and ACT Scores,” Tampa Bay Times, 2015.06.27].

As a teacher who scored above the 80th percentile on the SAT and ACT, I would never use a teacher’s high school test scores as the basis for paying a teacher more money. Neither, apparently, would University of Iowa researchers Barry Wilson and Victoria Robinson:

This study examined five years of assessment data on over 1800 teaching candidates to determine the relationship of standardized test data and grade-point average (GPA) to end of program performance measures. Findings indicated negligible correlations between standardized tests and end of program performance measures. GPA measures were better predictors. Results indicate standardized tests do not relate to later success in teaching and are of questionable help in identifying low-performing candidates [Barry Wilson and Victoria Robinson, “Predicting Teacher Performance: Proceed with Caution,” Journal of Assessment and Accountability in Educator Preparation, Feb. 2012].

Florida has 175,609 K-12 teachers. If the state pays out full $10,000 scholarships, they can reward 1 out of 40 teachers. They’ll be doing so on a metric that has nothing to do with performance. And they are doing this plan even as they cut rewards for the work teachers do to improve their skills right now, like obtaining advanced degrees and national board certification.

South Dakota, Blue Ribbon K-12 panel, ignore this bad, backward-looking SAT/ACT plan from Florida. Focus instead on compensating all South Dakota teachers for the work that the state is currently getting for free.


  1. Spencer 2015-06-29 10:31

    Basically, almost all South Dakota teachers are likely to score very high on our new state evaluation system considering it is easily gamed and leverages an insane amount of paperwork onto one administrator to keep any meaningful track of. Therefore, the ACT score would be the ultimate determining factor in almost all cases if such a thing were ever implemented.

  2. larry kurtz 2015-06-29 10:59

    Bill Janklow wired the schools. Denny Daugaard should build synths or skinjobs to teach in South Dakota schools then program them to deny human-caused climate change, teach creationism, and remind children to embrace the Confederate flag.

  3. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-06-29 13:40

    This comment has links to a MN program for teacher evaluation, support, and criteria for rewarding some teachers above their annual salary. I haven’t studied it and don’t have an opinion on it, but I’m offering it as part of the discussion here.


    MN has a program, signed by Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2005, for Quality Compensation of teachers. It’s known as QComp. This is a very brief summary of the program: “It is a voluntary program that allows local districts and exclusive representatives of the teachers to design and collectively bargain a plan that meets the five components of the law. The five components under Q Comp include Career Ladder/Advancement Options, Job-embedded Professional Development, Teacher Evaluation, Performance Pay, and an Alternative Salary Schedule.”

    The above comes from the state’s Department of Education Web page.

    Saturday’s Strib had an opinion pice by a citizen who thinks QComp ought to be dropped. Today a teacher wrote a rebuttal in the Strib supporting the program. You can read it here:

    The writer, Kaitlin Lindsey, included the fact that she is a member of
    Educators 4 Excellence. The E4E website is here:

  4. o 2015-06-30 14:04

    Spencer: you state about the new evaluations system ” . . . it is easily gamed.” I have to take issue with that. As a member of the CTL, part of the group that put the system together, I have to say that the system that we built (and DOE requires all schools to use beginning this year) is based on objective, observable teaching behaviors in the class and evidence from outside the classroom observation to promote the best practices of teaching. I don’t see how this is an “easily gamed system.”

    The fact that it does require some record keeping of the evaluation process for the principal/evaluator was a topic of concern for the group; as such, the amount of record keeping and frequency of evaluations was a serious consideration of the Commission given the many facets of a principal’s job.

    If implemented with fidelity, this is a wonderful first step in creating a new culture in schools: a culture of teacher growth that incorporates principals as leaders in staff development and growth.

    I would be interested in how you came to the conclusion that it is “easily gamed.” I really hope we question the motive of anyone wanting to “game” the system – to what end is that aim?

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-06-30 14:49

    Spencer, I’d rather see our new evaluations implemented with fidelity than ever see our pay determined by a test we took three decades ago… or to see a rookie teacher get a bonus just for scoring well on his ACT five years ago while the veteran teacher gets no such bonus.

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