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PRESS RELEASE

February 10, 2006

Jennifer Fennell or
Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Florida Department of Education Unveils "Effectiveness Compensation" Plan for Teachers

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner John L. Winn and K-12 Public Schools Chancellor Cheri Pierson Yecke today unveiled Florida's "E-Comp," or "Effectiveness Compensation," plan, which awards high-performing teachers with annual bonuses based on the academic progress of their students. The "E-Comp" plan is an addition to Florida's existing multi-faceted program for rewarding educational excellence through individual teacher and school recognitions.

"Traditionally, teachers are paid based on their level of education and years of experience, neither of which result in significantly higher student learning," said Commissioner Winn. "If we are to attract and keep the best and brightest teachers, then we must reward excellence in what matters most – student learning. As it is with any other profession, compensation for teachers should be based, in part, on their results, talent and expertise."

The "E-Comp" plan consists of two parts, including a requirement that all Florida teachers must have a portion of their salary based on their students' learning gains. In addition, the plan calls for those teachers who are recognized as outstanding to receive a bonus of five percent of their salary. An outstanding teacher is one that does the best job of improving student achievement.

Outstanding teachers are identified in two ways:

  • For those teachers who teach subjects tested by a statewide assessment, the state will identify the top 10 percent of all teachers statewide at the elementary, middle, and high schools levels based upon their students' achievement gains over the previous year. Beginning with the 2006-07 school year, these outstanding teachers will receive a bonus of five percent of their base salary.
  • For those teachers who do not teach subjects tested by a statewide assessment, individual school districts will develop a system for identifying teachers who are considered outstanding based upon their students' learning gains. No later than the 2007-08 school year, these teachers will also be rewarded with a bonus equal to five percent of their base salary.

A newly-created website, www.firn.edu/doe/profdev/reward/index.htm, provides additional information on the "E-Comp" plan. Included is a summary of the plan, answers to frequently asked questions, a chart comparing teacher reward strategies implemented in other states, reactions to the "E-Comp" plan from national experts and comprehensive information on other reward programs already available to Florida teachers.

Currently, Florida rewards teachers in a number of ways, including awards that honor outstanding educators, such as the Teacher of the Year and Milken awards; bonuses for earning advanced degrees and national certification; and bonuses based on performance determined by the number of students a teacher has who have earned specific scores on the Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams.

"The 'E-Comp' plan completes Florida's array of existing rewards programs by recognizing individual teachers for students' academic growth," said Chancellor Yecke. "Many of these teachers are beating the odds, helping their students exceed their learning gains expectations, and in some cases, helping some of our most struggling students succeed."

Since July 2002, Florida law has required that a portion of every teacher's pay be based on student achievement, and school administrators and instructional personnel who demonstrate outstanding performance must be awarded a bonus of five percent of their individual salary. The "E-Comp" plan provides school districts with a minimum framework for meeting this law. Districts are encouraged to reward more high-performing teachers than required by law.

As currently prescribed by law, the "E-Comp" plan will be funded by the school districts' Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) allocations. The Department of Education will request additional funding for the 2006-07 fiscal year to further support the program.


In support of "E-Comp"

"By establishing clear, objective guidelines we will set a clear goal for which our teachers can strive. By following through and rewarding those top-quality teachers who achieve the very best results, we send a signal to everyone — teachers, parents and students alike — that we value hard work and we particularly value extraordinary performance," said House Speaker Allan Bense.

"The State of Florida has a lot of wonderful teachers who are doing a fantastic job for students and our ability to recognize those efforts for going the extra mile is the least we can do," said State Senator J.D. Alexander, Chair, Senate Education Appropriations Committee. "I am excited to be a part of these initiatives."

"A longstanding challenge for our education model has been that 'If you do something bad, nothing really bad happens and if you do something great, nothing really great happens.' Rewarding outstanding performance with bonuses for our teachers is a great way to meet this challenge and boost achievement," said State Representative Dennis Baxley, Chair, House Education Council.

"We all know that quality teachers can have the greatest influence on students' lives. An effective, qualified, and motivated teacher will impact a student's life forever," said State Representative John Stargel, Chairman of the House Education Choice and Innovation Committee. "We need to provide additional incentives for these teachers to stay and to help attract other teachers who will come and dedicate the extra time it may take to help these children succeed."

"What a magnificent opportunity — for students, for teachers, for families, for Florida — to say 'We reward teachers who move students forward, we celebrate success!'. This represents the next step in rethinking teaching and learning, and it is a step well-taken," said Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Gene Hickok.

"With the advent of 'E-Comp,' Florida becomes the first state in the nation to begin seriously nudging teacher compensation into the 21st century — and into the era of results-based accountability," said Thomas B. Fordham Foundation President Chester E. Finn, Jr.

"The Commission is pleased to see Florida working intensively with districts to implement performance compensation for teachers," said The Teaching Commission Chairman Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. "The old way of paying America's teachers does nothing to recognize or reward results. That's an insult to the hard work of millions those who spend their lives improving our children's lives. Now, across the country, leaders are coming to the realization that it's time for change."

"Research has shown clearly that teacher quality is the absolutely essential ingredient for improving student achievement. Unfortunately, we have not paid sufficient attention to this, and we have treated successful teachers the same as unsuccessful teachers," said Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow Eric Hanushek, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. "In this area, Florida is doing it again — leading the nation toward improvement. The 'E-Comp' program is the first statewide program to introduce incentives for teacher quality and to do so in a reliable way that is linked to student gains in learning. In my opinion, this is an excellent beginning by Florida, and it has the possibility of pushing other states to follow suit."

"'E-Comp' is a sensible way to start ensuring that we reward effective teachers like the 21st century professionals that they are. The traditional pay models, which pay our best teachers exactly the same as our least effective, is both insulting and unfair to the teachers we most need to honor and keep," said American Enterprise Institute Director of Education Policy Studies Frederick M. Hess. "There's no reason to imagine that 'E-Comp' is a silver bullet, but it's a useful step towards directing educational dollars towards those teachers who are making the biggest difference for their students."

"Okaloosa has risen from a 'C' school system to the best in the state because of effective teaching. Teachers who take on tough challenges and achieve real results for students deserve to be rewarded," said Okaloosa County Superintendent of Schools Don Gaetz. "Every teacher should have the opportunity to earn more based on achieving more. I look forward to helping to fashion a final plan that recruits, retains, and rewards great teachers."

"I absolutely believe that differentiated compensation for teachers, administrators, and superintendents is an idea whose time has come," said Pinellas County Superintendent of Schools Clayton Wilcox. "We should be able to reward those who are getting the greatest gains for our kids."

"Performance-based compensation is an added incentive for effective teachers and a great recruiting tool for Florida," said Lake County's Cecil E. Gray Middle School Assistant Principal Maralena Coggins. "When teachers are successful in the classroom and produce results, they should be compensated for a job well done. Let's reward our best for increasing student achievement."

"The previous 'pay for performance' plan in my district made it difficult for teachers to qualify for any additional income. The 'Effectiveness Compensation' plan offers quality pay for quality teachers in a more concise and simplified manner," said 2006 Florida Department of Education/Macy's Teacher of the Year Sam Bennett.

"I think it is great that teachers are being recognized in this meaningful way, and I wish it had been in place when I was beginning my career in teaching," said third-grade teacher Barbara Colton, Crown Point Elementary School, Jacksonville. "I believe in rewarding my students when they do a good job; so why not reward teachers when we do a good job? 'E-Comp' is going to be wonderful for my daughter, a new teacher in Hillsborough County. She can take advantage of this program and be financially acknowledged for her performance."

"The teaching profession has long needed a fair and effective method of financially rewarding outstanding performance tied to gains in student achievement," said Florida Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Executive Director Dr. Robert Shockley. "The exciting possibility of 'E-Comp' is the opportunity of all teachers, regardless of the grade level or subject matter of their teaching assignment, to be rewarded for their student's learning gains. Florida has a teacher shortage, but it is not enough to attract new teachers without establishing a positive and supportive environment where outstanding performance is recognized and rewarded."