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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Young or new teachers, stay away from Florida, DANGER

How Senate Bill 736 will affect teachers, from the Florida Education Association

1. What will these new evaluations be like?
Every district is developing its own evaluation system. Districts participating in the Race to the Top (RTTT) grant must submit their new evaluation system to the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) by June 1, 2011.Districts not in RTTT will have to alter their current system to include the required range of ratings. This bill requires that every teacher be rated as Highly Effective, Effective, Needs Improvement or Unsatisfactory. For more information about your district’s new system, please contact your local union.

2. How will FCAT teachers be evaluated?
At least 50% of the teacher’s appraisal will be based on of at least 3 years of data on student learning growth using a value added measure (VAM) that has not yet been developed. Your district’s new evaluation system contains an evaluation rubric to document and rate classroom and professional performance.

3. How will non‐FCAT teachers be evaluated?
Districts have until 2014‐15 to develop other assessments that measure student learning growth. The bill does not specify how non‐FCAT teachers will be evaluated between 2011 through 2014 although it does require that districts use available student learning data for at least 40% of classroom teachers’ evaluations. The bill does allow districts to use school‐wide data or instructional team learning growth in reading and/or mathematics for non‐FCAT teachers whose students do not have other measures of learning gains.

4. What happens to non‐FCAT teachers in 2014‐15 and how will they be evaluated under this bill?
By 2014‐15 each district must develop and implement end of course exams for all non‐FCAT subjects. Districts also may use nationally recognized assessments and/or industry certification exams. Please contact your local union to learn about the student measures proposed in your district’s evaluation system.

5. When does the new evaluation system go into effect?
Districts must implement the new evaluation system during the 2011‐12 school year.

6. I have held a PSC for more than one year and have had perfect evaluations every year. Will I have to be evaluated using these four performance levels? Yes. Every employee on an Instructional Personnel contract must be rated and identified as one of the listed performance levels.

7. I am a PE (music, art, vocational) teacher, what test will be used to determine a student learning growth measure?
Districts have until 2014‐15 to develop and implement tests for all non‐FCAT subjects like PE, music, art, vocational. Your district’s evaluation system may address the means by which student growth data will be applied to non‐FCAT teachers. Possibilities include some sort of measurable learning targets based on the school improvement plan, school‐wide or instructional team data. Ask your local union for information on the district’s evaluation system specifications.

8. I am an ESE teacher. What test will be used to determine growth for my students?
Your district’s evaluation system may address the means by which ESE student growth data will be applied. Learning growth data should be based on the student’s IEP. Ask your local union for information on the district’s evaluation system specifications.

9. How does this bill affect non‐classroom instructional personnel?
Non‐classroom teachers, such as media specialists, guidance counselors, school psychologists, reading and math coaches, will be evaluated using your district’s new evaluation system. The student growth portion must include 3 years of growth data on state assessments or a combination of growth data and other measurable student outcome data. Student growth data will count for 20‐30% of the evaluation depending on the number of years of data available for the individual teacher.

10. How long will the evaluation process take from start to finish?
The evaluation process is in two parts: part one is the traditional classroom evaluation documentation (50%); part two is the inclusion of student learning growth data (50%). Classroom evaluation documentation is traditionally completed before April 1. As soon as student growth data is available it will be added to the classroom documentation score to complete the final score on the teacher’s evaluation. The timeline for the evaluation completion of parts one and two may be adjusted before the end of the RTTT grant in 2014.

11. What happens to teachers who don’t perform well on the new evaluation system?
Annual contract teachers would probably not be awarded another contract. PSC or CC teachers will move to an annual contract if they have unsatisfactory performance for two consecutive years, unsatisfactory performance for two out of three years or three consecutive ratings of needs improvement and/or unsatisfactory.

12. I have heard that, unlike SB 6, this bill will not impact my teaching certification. Is this correct?
The bill does not directly speak to teacher certification. However, the bill does require that all teachers’ evaluation ratings be reported to the Department of Education. There are still many unknowns as to how evaluation ratings could impact certification or future employment.

13. Will progressive discipline still count if it's in my local contract?
Yes. The bill gives PSC or CC teachers sufficient time to participate in a progressive discipline plan. First year annual contract teachers must be evaluated twice. These teachers can receive professional development and/or assistance to improve prior to their final evaluation. Please contact your local union for more information.

14. Since seniority can no longer be a major factor in decisions related to reduction‐in‐force, transfers and promotions, who decides my placement to or from a school ‐ the school administrator or the superintendent and on what criteria do they base their decisions? Terms and conditions of employment, such as placements, transfers and reduction in force, are subject to collective bargaining, and the decision‐making process varies by district. Nevertheless, this bill requires that teacher effectiveness will be the primary factor used in all decisions related to placements, transfers and reductions in force.

15. Will the bill impact transfer language?
Yes. The bill gives school principals the right to deny transfers into their school unless the teacher has been evaluated as Highly Effective or Effective, even if the district initiates the transfer.

16. Are there special considerations for teachers in F schools?
No. Teachers’ evaluations are tied to student learning growth not student achievement. This statute assumes that all students can show progress in learning no matter where they go to school.

17. What parts of my pay will be considered for retirement?
For retirement purposes, teacher pay includes the base salary plus adjustments based on achieving a Highly Effective or Effective evaluation. The base salary can include an advanced degree differential as long as the advanced degree is in the teacher’s certification area.

18. Will members with advanced degrees lose their supplement?
Teachers with advanced degrees may keep the supplement as long as the degree is within the teacher’s certification area. If the advanced degree is not in the teacher’s certification area, inclusion of the “degree differential” supplement is not permitted. Bargaining teams must consider how to include required and related advanced degrees when they negotiate the “grandfathered” schedule before 2014‐15.

19. Does the bill eliminate automatic supplement for advanced degrees currently added to my salary?
Probably, unless the advanced degree is in the teacher’s area of certification. Districts are only permitted to make salary adjustments based on a teacher’s achieving a Highly Effective or Effective evaluation. Bargaining teams must consider how to include required and related advanced degrees when they negotiate the “grandfathered” schedule before 2014‐15.

20. I am a guidance counselor who must have a master’s degree in counseling. Will this change my pay?
Since your advanced degree is in your certification area it should be part of your pay. Bargaining teams must consider how to include required and related advanced degrees when they negotiate the “grandfathered” schedule before 2014‐15.

21. Does a teacher have to give up their PSC or CC in order to be on the performance salary pay system?
Yes. This statute requires a teacher who moves from the “grandfathered” salary schedule to the performance salary schedule relinquish his/her PSC or CC for the duration of employment. Teachers who opt into the performance salary schedule may not return to the “grandfathered” schedule.

22. How will teachers not on the performance salary schedule be compensated?
Beginning July 1, 2014, districts must have two salary schedules: a “grandfathered” schedule and a performance salary schedule. The “grandfathered” salary schedule will be used as a basis in paying any teacher hired before July 1, 2014. Teachers on the “grandfathered” schedule will be paid the salary they earned the prior year,
including any adjustments for a Highly Effective or Effective evaluation.

23. If I am not on the performance salary schedule, how will I receive a raise in the future?
If there is funding available, annual salary adjustments (raises) are granted for teachers who receive Highly Effective and Effective evaluations regardless of the salary schedule on which they are paid. However, adjustments for teachers on the performance salary schedule will be at a higher rate compared to adjustments on the “grandfathered” schedule. It is important to note that this bill does not include any additional funding for the salary schedule.

24. Will teachers on PSC or CC lose it under this measure?
Not necessarily. Teachers may keep their CC or PSC as long as they: (1) remain in the district that granted the long‐term contract, (2) receive a Highly Effective or Effective evaluation, and (3) do not opt into the performance pay schedule. If current CC or PSC teachers opt into the performance pay schedule, (s)he must give up their PSC or CC status permanently.

25. I was planning to move to another county in Florida. Will I lose my PSC or CC?
Yes. Teachers who leave the district that granted the PSC or CC will be placed on an annual contract in their new district for the duration of their career. Given the statutory timeframe, the new district may only offer annual contracts for hires after 2014 when the third annual contract is completed.

26. When does the performance pay schedule go into effect?
By July 1, 2014, every district must adopt a performance salary schedule.

27. I have a PSC or CC, if I go on maternity leave will I lose my PSC status? What about sabbatical, military and Family Medical Leave?
Teachers may keep their current contracts status if their leave is approved by the district. Approved leave can include: maternity, Family Medical Leave, sabbatical, and military. Please check with your local union or your contract for a list of approved types of leave.

28. I am a second year annual contract teacher for the 2011‐12 school year. Will I be eligible for a PSC?
That is unclear. You will complete your third year annual contract at the end of the 2012‐13 school year. Unless a collective bargaining agreement is reached, it is likely districts will only be offering annual contracts to teachers not already on a PSC or CC.

29. What will happen to DROP for those who are already in it and those who are eligible this year?
DROP is part of the retirement system and is not addressed in this bill. Please follow the progress of SB 1130 and other legislation.

30. Doesn’t this bill just affect new hires?
No. It affects current teachers including veteran teachers on PSC and CC. Every teacher will be evaluated using the new evaluation criteria and student learning growth. Veteran teachers must demonstrate Highly Effective or Effective performance; if they are rated unsatisfactory two consecutive or two out of three years, they will be placed on an annual contract then, if there is no improvement, terminated.

31. Where will the money come from to pay for the performance salary schedule and “reward the highest performing teachers”?
The bill does not speak to the funding source for the performance salary schedule. Districts receive funding based on number and types of students and negotiate salaries with local unions. By 2014, districts and local unions must bargain local funding for two salary schedules. SB 736 requires that the performance salary schedule be significantly higher than the “grandfathered” schedule. It is logical that “grandfathered” salaries will decline as the performance salaries increase. With no new money, the more teachers who achieve Highly Effective and Effective ratings and qualify for performance pay, the smaller the merit pay award will be.

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