Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify Best and Brightest bonuses were awarded based on teachers' SAT/ACT scores.
- Florida’s state board of education is considering ending the Best and Brightest bonus, which awarded teachers an average of $8,500 if they had positive teacher evaluations and high SAT or ACT scores.
- The Tampa Bay Times reports the board’s budget proposal recommends moving $43 million of the $49 million expenditure into a fund for teacher recruitment and retention, including bonuses for new teachers with great potential and high-performing veteran teachers.
- The new plan for the money that has gone to the Best and Brightest bonuses for the last two years would also aim to address teacher shortages in STEM, support teachers in high-needs schools and coordinate with the state’s teacher preparation programs.
The laser focus on student test scores as an accountability metric during the years of No Child Left Behind was a major contributor to cheating scandals that rocked Atlanta and sent eight educators to prison. Cheating allegations have also been levied in Florida, California, Illinois, Indiana, Delaware, Michigan, New York, Nevada, Maryland, Ohio and South Carolina, according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, or FairTest.
The new Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind, gives more flexibility to states when it comes to evaluating schools and could lead to fewer testing scandals — but students will still take state tests once per year in third through eighth grade and again in high school. As schools consider revamping their teacher evaluation systems, administrators should keep the risks of focusing too much on test scores in mind.