Florida to Pay Teachers Bonuses for High Test Scores


In Florida schools, like in so many states, it is all about the test. The 800 students at Miami's North Twin Lakes Elementary can't move in the school without being reminded that the standardized test -- in Florida called the FCAT -- is everything. They have to sign a pledge, and they even have a song about it.

Now in what could become a model for the nation, Florida wants to offer a 5 percent cash bonus to teachers who can get their students to deliver the best test results. The idea of test-driven incentives for teachers is now being explored in 20 states.

"Teachers who inspire their students to significant achievement or who perform additional duties should see our appreciation for their efforts reflected in bigger numbers on their paycheck," said Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

But there is real anxiety about linking teachers' pay to student performance.

"We teach hundreds of things that aren't taught on the test," said Florida elementary school teacher Lucy Torres, "so I don't think that's a good measure of how the children are learning."

Standardized tests are one way to assess students' progress, but are those same tests a fair way to measure a teacher's success? Should a good teacher be quantified as if he or she works in a bank or a business?

Teachers say the test can't possibly capture leadership skills and the ability to inspire.

Based on students' test scores and progress made in reading, writing and math, schools are given a letter grade ranging from A to F. Principal Louise Harms helped raise North Twin Lakes Elementary School from an F to an A in just two years. She does not believe test-based bonuses will push her teachers further.

"I think it will cause dissension among teachers," she said. "Rivalry among teachers."

But in a system determined to see better test results, some political leaders believe a little bit of the free enterprise competitive spirit may be the right answer.

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Firefighters rescue a woman who got stuck in a chimney in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Ventura County Fire Department
PHOTO: Apple Pay is demonstrated at Apple headquarters on Oct. 16, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo
PHOTO: Up in Ash: Mount Sinabung Erupting
Tibt Nangin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
PHOTO: Defendant Jodi Arias testifies about killing Travis Alexander in 2008 during her murder trial in Phoenix, Feb. 20, 2013.
Charlie Leight/The Arizona Republic/AP Photo
PHOTO: Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, their daughter North West and Delphine Arnault attend the Givenchy show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2015, Sept. 28, 2014 in Paris.
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/French Select/Getty Images