teacher

Let’s say you are a bright young second year teacher in Florida (then again, you couldn’t actually be that smart if you decided to start your teaching career in Florida) but let’s say you have SAT scores in the top 20th percentile, qualifying you for a Best and Brightest bonus IF you have highly effective evaluation. Your odds of earning an extra $7200 a year ($6,000 for a Best and Brightest bonus plus another $1200 for a highly effective bonus from the state) will be substantially higher in some Florida counties than others. Listed in this chart you can see which counties have more generous evaluation systems than others and where your odds would be higher in earning a Best and Brightest bonus. Okaloosa County came in top place with 97% of its teachers earning a highly effective evaluation while Putnam County must have the worst teachers in Florida with only 1% earning a highly effective evaluation. To be fair, Putnam County only has 663 teachers total and for some reason it was the counties with the lowest number of teachers that tended to have the lowest percent of highly effective teachers. This is probably why the Palm Beach County School District decided to leave out the names of the counties when they passed out this chart to administrators:

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The Palm Beach County School District just happened to pick the seven counties with the lowest percentage of highly effective teachers and just happened to leave out the names of the counties (most of which were small districts) when they were trying to make a point to their administrators that they were being too generous with evaluations. If you look at the actual data state wide, 34 out of the 78 counties had a higher percentage of highly effective teachers than Palm Beach County.

But kudos to you Palm Beach County for having one of the highest percentage of highly effective teachers in South Florida and kudos to you for informing teachers prior to winter break regarding which state Best and Brightest bonus they qualify for. Teachers in Palm Beach received the following email.

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Meanwhile, in Dade County where only 32% of teachers were rated highly effective in 2015-16 we continue to wait for our 2016-17 evaluations. Teachers in Miami Dade will not be informed of their VAM and final summative evaluations until after January 8th even though our principals will have access to them as of December 18th. http://briefings.dadeschools.net/files/36843_2016-17_SPE_EOY_Guide_and_Calendar.pdf  I guess no one working downtown bothered to consider that qualifying for an additional $7200 from the state might have altered some teachers plans for winter break had they been informed in advance.

For a long time many teachers didn’t particularly care about their VAM or whether they were highly effective or effective. Now that there is real money attached to these evaluations, some teachers might be lured to another district at the prospects of earning a highly effective evaluation and more money from both their districts and the state. Let’s take a look at two south Florida second year teachers, one works in Miami Dade County and one works in Palm Beach County. They both started at $41,000 a year and they both have SAT scores in the top 20th percentile. Teacher A in Miami received a low VAM score from the district’s covariate adjustment model which lowered their overall evaluation to effective. Teacher A will now receive a 2% raise instead of 2.67%, up to $800 instead of $1200, and no longer qualify for a $6,000 Best and Brightest bonus. Teacher A will earn $42,620 with their effective evaluation.

Meanwhile, Teacher B in Palm Beach County received a highly effective evaluation. They now qualify for a 3.5% raise, a $1200 state bonus, and another $6,000 Best and Brightest bonus. Teacher B in Palm Beach county will take home $49,635! Over $7,000 more than  Teacher A in Miami.

It’s time for young teachers to realize they do have choices and they do have mobility. Why teach in a county where you are significantly less likely to receive a highly effective evaluation and earn thousands of dollars less in state bonuses and raises every year? Why teach in Florida at all is an even better question, but if you do find yourself addicted to 80 degree weather and beaches, at least teach in a county where your odds are highest for taking advantage of Florida’s wonky bonus programs.

You can find an alphabetical listing of Florida teacher evaluations results for 2015-16 here.

 

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