While giving local districts authority over pay scales, the state should ensure that effectiveness is a factor in teachers' compensation. This goal is reorganized for 2021.
Salary requirements: Florida requires that all teachers hired on or after July 1, 2014 to be placed on a performance pay schedule. Adjustments for highly effective teachers must be the highest available through any salary schedule. Adjustments for effective teachers must be 50% to 75% that of highly effective teachers. Teachers who receive a rating other than highly effective or effective may not receive a salary adjustment. Teachers hired prior to July 1, 2014 may choose placement on the grandfathered salary schedule, or they may opt into the performance salary schedule, but they may not return to the grandfathered schedule. In determining the grandfathered salary schedule, a "portion" of the compensation must be based on performance. In addition, "a district school board may not use advanced degrees in
setting a salary schedule...unless the advanced degree is held in the
individual's area of certification and is only a salary supplement."
Performance pay policies: Florida's compensation policy prevents districts from focusing on elements not associated with classroom effectiveness while still allowing local districts to develop their own salary schedules.
Florida Statutes 1012.22(1)(c)(5)
Monitor district implementation.
To ensure that Florida's strong state policy regarding teacher performance pay is implemented as intended, the state is encouraged to monitor how districts interpret requirements and execute individual compensation systems. To uphold the spirit of the law, high-performing teachers, as measured by an evaluation based on student growth measures, should have the opportunity to receive a meaningful financial reward.
Florida recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that during the 2020 legislative session, Governor DeSantis and legislative partners successfully championed and secured the historic Teacher Salary Increase Allocation through HB 641 and funded this new allocation with $500 million in line item 92 of the General Appropriations Act (HB 5001). According to the state, this investment is the single largest teacher compensation increase ever in Florida and a statement to the nation that Florida is elevating the teaching profession.
Florida also provided the summary impact of the legislation: HBs 641 and 5001 create and fund a new allocation within the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) focused on increasing compensation for full-time classroom teachers, assisting school districts in their recruitment and retention of classroom teachers and instructional personnel. Florida stated that this monumental investment in Florida's education system prioritizes $400 million (80% of the allocation) for increasing teachers' minimum base salary statewide, providing funds to elevate Florida teachers' average starting pay from less than $38,000 to $46,500, a 21% increase, #26 to #5 respectively among the 50 states. Florida concluded that the legislature supported Governor DeSantis' initiative to make this paradigm shift to elevate Florida's teachers-the professionals who undoubtedly have the most profound impact on Florida's children and therefore Florida's economic future.
Compensation reform can be accomplished within the context of local control. Teacher pay is, and should be, largely a local issue. Districts should not face state-imposed regulatory obstacles that prevent them from paying their teachers as they see fit; different communities have different resources, needs, and priorities. The state can ensure that all teachers are treated fairly by determining a minimum starting salary for all teachers. However, a state-mandated salary schedule that locks in pay increases or requires uniform pay deprives districts of the ability to be flexible and responsive to supply-and-demand problems that may occur.
While leaving districts flexibility to decide their own pay scales, states should promote compensation tied to teacher effectiveness and discourage districts from basing pay solely on criteria not correlated with teacher effectiveness. Across the country, state and district salary schedules are based primarily on just two criteria: advanced degrees and years of experience, neither of which is correlated with teacher effectiveness. The impact of advanced degrees on teacher performance has been studied extensively, and research has shown that such degrees generally do not make teachers more effective. Years of experience do have an impact on teacher effectiveness very early in a teacher's career, but this effect appears to fade out after the first few years of teaching. Because of their predominance in current salary schedules, states need to take a proactive role in preventing districts from basing teacher pay primarily on these two criteria.
Performance pay is an important recruitment and retention strategy. Performance pay provides an opportunity to reward those teachers who consistently achieve positive results from their students. The traditional salary schedule used by most districts pays all teachers with the same inputs (i.e., experience and degree status) the same amount regardless of outcomes. Not only is following a mandated schedule inconsistent with most other professions, it may also deter talented individuals from considering a teaching career, as well as high-achieving teachers from staying in the field, because it offers no opportunity for financial reward for success.
States should set guidelines for districts to ensure that plans are fair and sound. Performance pay plans are not easy to implement well. There are numerous examples of both state and district initiatives that have been undone by poor planning and administration. As the use of value-added models now allow for the development of a more meaningful understanding of teacher effectiveness, districts should ensure that performance pay systems consider both qualitative and quantitative measures in order to fairly assess and compensate teachers for their performance.
States can play an important role in supporting performance pay by setting guidelines (whether for a state-level program or for districts' own initiatives) that recognize the challenges in implementing a program well. A few states now require that districts build performance into salary schedules, moving away from bonus structures that teachers know may be subject to budget constraints and competing priorities.