Rep. Grant filed a bill HB373 that would not allow districts to grant annual contract renewals, as some districts do, for teachers who receive an evaluation of ‘effective’ or ‘highly effective’. The bill has a long way to go in the legislative process and what the bill accomplishes is not clear. Teachers rated ‘ineffective’ may already be terminated. Tenure is gone, and teachers are regularly dismissed.
Reasons for dismissing a teacher are specified in law according to the Florida Education Association which does not support more legislative interference in teacher contracts. Currently, teachers are on annual contracts which must be reviewed each year. Some districts automatically renew these contracts if there are no performance issues.
In 2011, Governor Scott signed SB 736 that altered the entire teacher evaluation system:
- Teachers hired after 2011 have a one-year probation and be subject to immediate dismissal. After the first year, they have annual contracts and annual reviews.
- Teachers hired prior to 2011 continue to have professional service contracts with automatic renewal, but they would be subject to immediate dismissal for just cause. All teachers, however, must renew their teacher certificates every five years, and those teachers with two sequential unsatisfactory ratings would be dismissed.
- Teachers receiving marginal ratings must undergo training. (Whether or not principals are willing to arrange for the appropriate remediation is a concern. It is suggested that it may be simply easier to give a low rating and dismiss the teacher).
- Workforce reduction must be based on program needs and performance evaluations, not last hired, first fired policies.
- Two salary plans performance (merit) or the years of teaching pay schedules are used. Teachers hired before 2011 are able to transfer to the merit plan, if they wish.