Last Thursday, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 736, which ties teacher contracts and pay to how well their students perform on tests. The passage of this bill will make tenure nonexistent for new teachers and will remove rewards for teachers who have post-graduate degrees.
Attitudes about the teaching profession have nosedived. With local and state governments across the country trying to close budget gaps and cutting public spending along the way, employees and their unions have become the target.
In an effort to evaluate teachers and students based on a uniform set of standards, some school districts are even imposing district-wide quarterly subject tests all students must pass. Teachers, however, balk at the idea of being evaluated by their student’s performance and at having their curriculum dictated by government agencies.
It’s unfair to tie teacher’s pay to standardized testing. Anyone that has attended a public high school knows that it’s clear that AP, IB and honors students will score better on standardized tests than students who struggle to pass the FCAT. But who decides which teachers get to teach the smart students? And should teachers who have built their careers around reaching out to students with learning disabilities be punished for their choice?
Linking teacher pay to students’ test performance will only encourage more “teaching to the test.” It discourages creativity and unique lesson plans and, in our opinion, would make any college student considering going into a teaching career second guess that decision.
Teaching is a give and take between the teacher and the student. Emphasizing standardized testing can only create a substandard product including students across the state who have only scratched the surface of the knowledge educators have to offer and a generation of kids who have yet to discover something they’re truly passionate about and interested in learning.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.