Florida, Gov. Rick Scott Close to Raising Bar on Teacher Tenure, Evaluation Reform

You may have missed it because you were recovering from the New Year’s holiday, but I told you a couple months ago how Florida’s new governor Rick Scott was considering some pretty bold education reforms. The first two points of consideration I listed were:

  • Following Colorado’s lead by tying a significant portion of teacher evaluations to measured student academic growth
  • Phasing out tenure for K-12 teachers by denying it to new hires

Something similar was attempted last year in the Sunshine State, but then-governor Charlie Crist took his big veto pen and halted Senate Bill 6 in its tracks. Well, yesterday, SB 736 (called the “Son of 6” by the local Naples News) passed the house of representatives and now awaits the new governor’s signature. No one, and I mean no one, expects Scott to pull a Crist on this serious legislative attempt to overhaul teacher tenure and evaluations:

“This is part of the process of making sure that education is 100 percent focused on the benefit of students,” Scott said during a celebratory press conference. “We will make sure that the best teachers stick around, we retain them, train them, and we’ll find the money to make sure they’re paid fairly.”

Florida will join a handful of other states and cities as a pioneer in the national pay for performance experiment. It will be one of the largest-scale experiments so far, said Bill Evers, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

“If we pay people by incentive, we will attract a different pool of people into the teaching process,” Evers said. “They’ll be achievement-oriented rather than just seat-time oriented.”

Bingo. Writing on Jay Greene’s blog, Matthew Ladner observes: “Florida once again has raised the bar on education reform for the rest of the nation.” Higher than even Colorado’s Senate Bill 191, which the Council on Educator Effectiveness is still hashing out. Education Week‘s Stephen Sawchuk has the details on Florida’s SB 736, along with a few insights on the challenges of implementation.