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About 5,200 teachers to receive test-score bonuses

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About 5,200 Florida teaches will receive bonuses as part of a program that rewards instructors based on how they scored on college admissions exams.

The Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program will reward more than $8,400 to each instructor by April 1, The Orlando Sentinel reported.

The program, which ties bonuses to teachers’ scores on ACT or SAT exams, was approved by the Florida Legislature in the spring. To qualify, instructors needed to score in the top 20 percent of exam takers the year they took the test.

Rep. Erik Fresen, the program’s creator, said he hoped the bonuses would encourage top teachers to stay in the profession and high-caliber college students to pursue teaching careers.

“Common sense would tell you that it’s a good thing to incentivize the smartest kids to come into the teaching profession,” he said at last week’s committee meeting.

Many have criticized the bonus plan, though, saying that while the state needs to boost teacher pay, this approach was misguided.

“That’s just not how you determine who are the best and brightest teachers,” Rep. Joseph Geller said.

The Florida Education Association, the statewide teachers union, is considering a legal challenge to the program, which it views as discriminatory against teachers who don’t have high test scores.

Teachers with experience in the classroom also needed to be rated “highly effective” to be eligible. New teachers only needed the requisite test scores.

Teachers who will receive bonuses next year represent 3 percent of the state’s 170,000 eligible instructors.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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