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Controversy in Florida: Teacher Bonuses Based on SAT Scores

A Controversy in Florida: State's Teachers to be Considered for Bonuses Based on SAT Scores

A controversial move from the Florida legislature has many teachers scratching their heads; it has set aside $44 million to reward highly-rated teachers with high SAT and ACT scores.

As teacher shortages begin to make news this back-to-school season, many states are looking for ways to compensate and reward those in the teaching profession. But the Florida legislature's decision to include high school ACT and SAT scores in compensation is raising questions from its potential recipients.

Called the "Best and the Brightest Scholarship", it is coming "under heavy criticism, including from some of the lawmakers who approved it this summer as a late addition to the state budget," said The Tampa Bay Times.

The scholarship is intended to reward highly-regarded and experienced teachers, but first-year teachers in the profession could qualify simply from their SAT or SAT scores alone.

As a result, some teachers are refusing to participate in the program, despite the potential of up to $10,000 in bonuses.

"'If the state of Florida truly cared about education, it would be rewarding all effective teachers for remaining in the profession, improving working conditions, and offering incentives to those entering the profession with the proper education and credentials,'" commented music teacher Kevin Strang to The Times.

The scholarship is putting teachers in a difficult position because though the monetary rewards are great, they know that the test scores they earned while a teenager have no impact on their ability to teach in the present.

The Department of Education is allowing for teachers to re-take the SAT and ACT to be eligible, but they must submit their official scores by Oct. 1. Many teachers who hope to qualify might have to do so despite having already taking the test before; qualifications are dependent on the score falling above the 80th percentile of test takers at the time of submission. Percentile rankings were not started until 2004.

"Political observers have started speculating whether lawmakers had something in mind other than sponsor Rep. Erik Fresen's stated goal of attracting top high school students into teaching," The Times said.

And "[t]he nonpartisan League of Women Voters has suggested on its education blog that the program was devised to aid Teach For America, a program that brings recent college graduates with limited training to teach in urban schools."

Read the full story here, take our poll and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

08/17/2015

Would you participate in a rewards program based on your SAT or ACT scores?

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