Thursday, May 27, 2010

Accountability is key to teacher pay

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush with some wise thoughts on teacher accountability – and how such a system has driven enormous improvements in FL:


The principles of reform are simple.

Teachers should be evaluated and compensated based on how much their students learn and teachers whose students learn more should earn more.

To attract individuals from the private sector with the skills in high-demand subjects, such as math and science, those teaching positions should pay more.

Teaching in a high-poverty school is more challenging than teaching in an affluent suburban school. To attract great teachers to our toughest challenges, teachers who work in high-poverty schools should earn more. That's our best hope of closing the achievement gap.

Finally, teachers should not have a lifetime guarantee of employment. Holding adults responsible for the quality of education and creating incentives for progress works. Don't take my word for it. Just check out Florida's sustained improvement in student achievement during the last decade ( Let's take a closer look at fourth grade, which is the critical year where students start "reading to learn" as opposed to "learning to read."

In 1998, half of Florida's fourth graders were functionally illiterate, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation's Report Card. Without the ability to read, students' prospects for a successful academic career were bleak.

Since Florida's A+ Plan was enacted in 1999, that dismal statistic has been cut in half. Today, more than 70% of Florida's fourth graders are scoring above the national average in reading.

A deeper look into the data shows even more promising results for Sunshine State students. Hispanic fourth graders read as well or better than the average student in 31 other states and the District of Columbia. Low-income Hispanic fourth graders outperform the average student in seven states. African American students are rising in the ranks too. In just the last two years, students with disabilities achieved higher gains in reading than 48 other states.

Teachers, as well principals, parents and the students themselves, deserve credit for the hard work it required to achieve these incredible results. However, the catalyst for their success was Florida's system of accountability which created incentives for progress. The same success can be achieved with a new round of reform to reward excellence in teaching.


Accountability is key to teacher pay

Jeb Bush

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

May 23, 2010

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