Testing the Teachers: New raise program gets failing grades

WSVN — What if your boss said you could get a bonus based on a test you took decades ago? It’s happening right now to teachers throughout Florida. 7’s Craig Stevens shows us why this plan of "Testing the Teachers" is getting a bad grade.

David Wood didn’t get into teaching for the money.

David Wood: "The students I work with and my colleagues, they’re the best part of my job."

The 23-year veteran teacher says he was excited though when he heard about new bonuses for educators, until he read the fine print.

David Wood: "My first thought was, ‘Wait, what? You want to give me a raise based on my SAT scores?’"

Yes, a raise program based on scores on college entrance exams. State lawmakers passed a bill called the Florida Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship program. The $44 million program was supposed to be a tool to recruit top students to teaching.

Florida Rep. Erik Fresen: "Having less than 8 percent of our best and brightest high school students, even considering or entering the teaching profession, is a problem."

But what passed the legislature was a potential $10,000 bonus for all teachers based in part on their score on the college entrance exams, even if those exams were taken 50 years ago.

Sharon Glickman, President, Broward Teachers Union: "It was just rushed through the last minute, and it really wasn’t debated on the floor."

The head of the Broward Teachers Union says bonuses shouldn’t be given based on a decades-old test.

Sharon Glickman: "Those millions of dollars could be used to raise the teacher’s salaries throughout the state."

Teachers also find the program insulting.

Shawn Maas: "It has nothing to do with my career of 20 years in Broward County."

David Wood: "Even if the intent of it was right and positive and good, the execution of it is terrible and it’s shortsighted."

The lawmaker who introduced the bill admits the plan needs some fine-tuning and says it was never his intention to apply the incentive program to veteran teachers.

Erik Fresen: "Nowhere in my mind did I ever think for one second that a test that was taken 20 years ago, 15 years ago, 25 years ago has any relevance to the classroom."

But until changes are made, the teachers we spoke to give this program a failing grade.

David Wood: "There aren’t grades lower than F."

The state representative says he plans to revise the statute in the new budget year. He wants to make the program eligible to incoming teachers and those who have been teaching up to seven years. In the Plex, Craig Stevens, 7News.