Governor Rick Scott recently signed into law Senate Bill 736, the Student Success Act, which requires merit pay for Florida’s public educators based on student achievement. “I am proud that the first bill I sign is this important legislation that will give Florida the best educated workforce to compete in the 21st century economy,” Governor Scott said. “We must recruit and retain the best people to make sure every classroom in Florida has a highly effective teacher.”
The legislation changes how teacher performance is evaluated, including the following:
- Teachers will be evaluated using four performance levels: highly effective, effective, needs improvement and unsatisfactory. Teachers are currently evaluated as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory, with 99.7 percent of teachers earning a satisfactory evaluation in 2009.
- At least 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on student learning gains, as will 30 percent of evaluations for non-classroom personnel and 40 percent for school administrators. Currently 100 percent of the evaluation is based on principal or peer review.
- Teachers in hard-to-staff subject areas such as math and science will earn more money. Currently all teachers, regardless of subject taught, are paid using the same scale.
- After July 1, 2011, new teachers will work on annual contracts, instead of receiving tenure after 3 years of satisfactory evaluations.
Florida Senator Stephen Wise applauded the legislation. “Our teachers are incredibly influential and important to the success of our children and our future as a state,” Senator Wise said. “I believe this bill will attract top-quality educators to Florida and foster a student-centered, world-class education system.”
“This is a momentous occasion for our state’s education system,” said Florida Representative Erik Fresen. “Excellent teachers are the driving force behind student success and this bill provides for a system that recognizes those highly effective educators and rewards them appropriately.”