Florida Senate Bill 6 would give the state more control over education in Florida. This bill aims to do a number of things including increasing standardized tests and negatively affecting the pay and firing policies for teachers based on test scores. This bill will hurt our education system and should not be passed.
This bill wants to increase the number of state mandated, standardized tests by adding end of course exams.
End of course exams would likely be more beneficial than Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) exams as it would only test students on the material that they learned in their class rather than on past materials and materials they may have not covered. The FCAT exams should be removed in place of these end of course exams in my opinion. Having both is not a good idea, however. Too much testing hurts the performance of students and causes the focus to be on testing rather than learning. This is not what we want from our education system.
Teacher pay and firing policies will be negatively affected by Florida Senate Bill 6.
This bill will base teacher pay and the firing of teachers on the standardized test scores of students. Currently teacher’s pay is based on several things including classroom performance, years of experience and advanced degrees or training.
Test scores are a poor judge of a teacher’s ability to teach. Many factors that contribute to the scores of students are out of the control of the teacher. For example, each student’s test taking ability and academic strengths and weaknesses will greatly affect their performance in the classroom and success on standardized tests. Also, higher level classes are more likely to have students who are eager to learn than lower level classes. Lower level classes are more likely to have students who are not strong in that subject. This system would end up rewarding teachers more based on what classes they are teaching rather than their teaching ability. A teacher should not be punished/rewarded based on the test scores of students as many contributing factors are out of control of the teacher.
Another big problem with the senate bill 6 is that it removes two big incentives that teachers have to further their education: the Florida Teacher Scholarship and Forgivable Loan Program and the National Board Certification Program.
The National Board Certification Program is the most prestigious certification available to teachers. Educators spend a year making videos and writing papers about what they do each day in the classroom, and take half a dozen tests to gain the certification. The certification is good for 10 years. Initially teachers received a 10 percent pay increase; however, recently that percentage dropped almost 2 percent, and now the state is attempting to drop the program entirely. Removing these programs will cause fewer teachers to pursue further education and improve their teaching skills. This will only end up hurting students and their ability to learn.
Florida Senate Bill 6 will damage education in Florida. Education does not need more state control; it needs less. We urge our Senators not to pass this bill for the sake of teachers and students alike. It will only cause harm.