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merit pay
Ponce de Leon Middle School science teacher Eugenio Machado instructs Gabriel Marino, Stella Leone and Melanie Larson. When Miami-Dade public schools rolled out their performance pay plan to fanfare and cheering last year, it was the first district in Florida to get a head start on what will become a mandated policy in 2014 and felt like it took on frontrunner status in the nation. “We’re on the cutting edge for a large urban district,” said Enid Weisman. Spurred on largely by competition for federal grants, the vast majority of states are in the midst developing performance pay models. Miami’s system is a classic one as far as implementation goes with bonuses rewarded based on student performance on tests; its the kind that research has found doesn’t make a significant change in student performance. So just where exactly does Miami rank among its national peers? With a sensitivity paid to getting teacher feedback and taking a multi-year approach to changing the culture, it holds more promise than failed ones in places like New York. But by sticking to test scores as the only variable, Miami is a step behind the multi-layered approaches in places like Denver and Austin, September 21, 2011. (Photo by Al Diaz/Miami Herald)

In their latest paychecks, thousands of Miami-Dade teachers got an extra bump based on their students’ or schools’ FCAT scores. Some 120 teachers are poised to receive even bigger bumps — $4,000 to $25,000 — for their students’ gains.

The bonuses mark Miami-Dade’s foray into performance pay, a controversial policy that is part of the Obama Administration’s education reform agenda.

As the first district in Florida to implement such a plan, Miami-Dade has a head start on what will become a state requirement in 2014.

As the nation’s fourth-largest school district, it is also trying to succeed where others have failed. Places like New York and Texas have scrapped or deeply slashed their merit-pay systems because of a lack of money or results — or both.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools hopes to build its own success over time by taking it slowly, renegotiating the system each year with the teachers union, which helped create the initial plan.

The transition begins with the bonuses, financed with federal dollars, tied to last school year’s performance. But the new state law requires school districts to eventually tie salaries to teacher effectiveness.

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the district set a pace for reform that both respects teachers and leverages the funding available.

“Even though it’s not a perfect system, it is the best one in the nation,” he said. “It was done — rather than by imposition — through negotiation.”

Historically, teachers’ salaries have been determined by two factors: years of experience and credentials like advanced degrees.

A national movement, spurred by competition for federal grants like President Barack Obama’s $4.3 billion Race to the Top, is aiming to change that. Politicians in cash-starved states all over the country have promised to start merit pay plans. That’s despite the fact that most of the research on performance pay has found no significant impact on student performance.

Florida, by being the first state to adopt a salary structure based only on teacher performance, hopes to change that.

Teacher evaluations

This story is part of a series by The Hechinger Report and newspapers in Florida. Stories have appeared in both the Miami Herald and Bradenton Herald. You can read the entire package on our site.

You can also read our award-winning series from 2010 in partnership with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that took an in-depth look at teacher quality and effectiveness.

Race to the Top dollars — $14 million for this first year — will fund Miami-Dade’s plan through 2014. But when the grant runs out, that’s when the state mandate starts. In 2014, all Florida school districts must revamp how they pay teachers under SB 736 that is being challenged in court by the state’s teachers union.

The law requires that teachers receive a grade based in part on student scores. A statistical equation, called a “value-added model,” will weigh student test scores and other factors to evaluate a teacher. That grade, combined with principal observations, will determine if they qualify for more pay.

For Miami-Dade teachers who do not teach FCAT subjects — such as P.E., chemistry or drama — their entire school’s FCAT reading scores will be factored into their reviews for the 2011-12 school year. Eventually, under state law, there will be a test for every subject that will be used to evaluate students and teachers.

In the first wave of bonuses, about 85 percent of the Miami-Dade district’s 20,000-plus teachers qualify for extra money in four categories, depending on how their school, department or students scored on the FCAT. Most bonuses range from about $500 to just more than $1,500. Some teachers will not see any extra money.

The local union, the United Teachers of Dade, ratified the system with a majority vote. One teacher has challenged the ratification with a state commission.

Science teacher Eugenio Machado, 45, received just over $1,000 from two categories — for school-wide and his team’s performance at Ponce de Leon Middle School, which has maintained an A grade since 2005-06. “I do believe in the idea.

They still need to work on it. Right now it’s too narrow,” said Machado. Machado, who was previously named the school’s teacher of the year, said he doesn’t teach for the money. “It’s nice to have the validation, the pat on the back.”

In Broward, the district and teachers are starting to work through a new evaluation system. For this school year, FCAT scores will factor into half of a teacher’s review. Teachers will start attending sessions this month to learn more about how the new plan, which the Broward Teachers Union approved in August after three years of stalled contract negotiations.


For work in 2010-2011, Miami-Dade teachers could earn performance bonuses in four ways. Base pay remains the same, and teachers can qualify in multiple categories. They are:

  • Their school made improvement on its FCAT scores, such as a school raising a state letter grade or a B- or C-ranked school improving its overall FCAT points.
  • hey were part of a team of teachers who improved math or reading proficiency or moved the lowest 25 percent of students.
  • A high percentage of their individual students — 90 percent or more — made learning gains on the FCAT.
  • They rank as the top-performing teachers — 10 each in reading and math — in each region and among the district’s group of struggling schools. The top ranking will be based on the highest consistent student gains over three years. That top incentive pay will range from $4,000 for teachers ranked 4-10, $8,000 for third, $12,000 for second and $25,000 for the top-ranked in math and reading, separately.

Anticipating some hiccups the first year, the union has set up an appeals process, said union president Pat Santeramo. “We’ll be able to track where the consistent problems are, and hopefully that can lead to overall corrections of flaws there may be in the system.”

Many parents are concerned about how performance pay will play out in the classroom. Lolli McLeroy of Hollywood said she fears it will drive teachers away from working with students like her 8-year-old daughter, who is autistic. “What is going to be the motivation for teachers to teach kids who have trouble on the test?” she said. “What sense would it make if dentists got paid based on how many patients did or didn’t get cavities?”

Experts like Frederick Hess, an education policy expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank, have argued that merit pay systems that reward almost everyone are almost guaranteed to be disappointing.

If about 85 percent of teachers get something extra, “it’s hard to give very much money to anybody, so it’s hard for it to really make much of a difference,” he said.

The point of performance pay, Hess said, should be to rethink how good teachers are using their time and give them various promotions or increased time with students — and then reward them accordingly.

“That’s absolutely possible under what the Florida state system is going to create,” he said. “It’s certainly not automatic.”

Miami-Dade Assistant Superintendent Enid Weisman, who oversees human resources, said she would have preferred to see more and larger bonuses for fewer teachers.

Karen Aronowitz, United Teachers of Dade president, said she worked to get the best deal for teachers, even though she doesn’t agree with the system in principle.

“I’m going to make sure, if there’s a distribution of dollars, that we’re not leaving money on the table that can be put into the hands of our educators, and that it’s as fairly and widely distributed as we can negotiate,” she said.

Ponce de Leon Principal Anna Rodriguez says merit pay is a move in the right direction — treating teachers in a professional manner and compensating them for realizing change. Like other district officials, she recognizes the initial merit-pay plan isn’t perfect. “It’s very difficult to try and fly a plane and implement this plan when it’s not 100 percent perfect,” she said, echoing Carvalho. “Which I believe is the beauty of it. We can change it as we go.”

Still, under the state law, SB 736, the plan’s basic premise will remain the same.

By 2014, the district will be locked into whatever system it has decided upon. The law requires that teachers deemed effective or highly effective receive an increased base salary, not just a yearly bonus.

School districts in 45 states have some form of merit pay, according to the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Those systems range widely, from providing bonuses based on test scores and classroom observations — like Florida’s plan — to using complex metrics for evaluations and several avenues for teachers to boost their paychecks.

Denver’s ProComp system is one example. By taking hard-to-fill positions — like high school math teacher — or going to high-need schools, participating in extra professional development or meeting two goals they set at the beginning of the year with their principals, teachers can earn from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars more each year.

Piloted in 1999, ProComp has shown promise. Teachers who were required to participate had higher first-year achievement than those hired prior to it, according to a 2010 report by the University of Colorado-Boulder School of Education.

But other factors could have played into that success.

Miami-Dade is banking on teacher input to set it apart from unsuccessful programs elsewhere.

The district will listen to feedback each year before implementing changes. “It allows us to go back and review,” Weisman said. “With others, it was just a one step, ‘This is what it is.’ ”

Hialeah Senior High writing teacher Kathy Pham said she didn’t feel teachers had enough of a voice in all the impending changes. She received just over $1,000 in the first wave of bonuses and was glad the federal grant money went to teachers. But she’s concerned about the state’s long-term merit-pay plan. “There are so many things that are being done to us that don’t have educationally sound value or practice to them. I don’t think the legislators understand how complex and complicated this is,” she said.

Susan Burns, at Vanderbilt’s National Center on Performance Incentives, said collaboration — rather than “knee-jerk responses” — characterizes some of the most promising systems.

“One of the things that is real important is the involvement of various partners,” Burns said, noting that places with long-standing systems involved teachers unions in crafting the plans. “They have not just been top down.”

Yet collaboration isn’t a guarantee for success. In New York City, a performance pay plan that was rolled out in 2007, with support from the city’s teachers union, rewarded entire schools on their progress in raising student test scores.

Officials scrapped the program after a study by Harvard economist Roland Fryer discovered that it didn’t lead to increased student achievement. If anything, schools that took part in the program began to do worse.

Randi Weingarten, the American Federation of Teachers president and president of the New York City union at that time, said the best compensation programs base teacher pay on their skills or reward them for collaboration like peer coaching. As for plans that dole out bonuses based on test scores, “none of those merit-pay plans have ever worked,” she said.

This story originally appeared in the Miami Herald on September 30, 2011.

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Letters to the Editor

3 Letters

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  1. Unfortunately, my colleagues who received bonuses don’t know why. This has also created competition among professionals and is changing the collegial atmosphere in schools. Great going, Florida legislators.

  2. Though the application and build-up was gradual, this school year’s sudden introduction of the particulars of MDCPS’ Federal Race to the Top (RTTT) program to educators was quite a shock.

    It involved a dramatic overhaul of the Teacher Evaluation model called IPEGS and is affecting all of our teaching/curriculum – as one blogger for the United Teachers of Dade (UTD) has said “we are all reading teachers now.” It was presented with little warning or dialogue from either our employer or our union, the UTD. It was presented via a mandatory information saturated video presentation August 19th during our 2nd day back on the job, just before the school doors opened to our students (i.e., the busiest time of the year).

    It was presented as though the new IPEGS evaluation system were a “done deal.”

    It caused an uproar as the majority of teachers for MDCPS found that 50% of our evaluation in the upcoming year would be based NOT on our work, but on the work of reading teachers and how seriously a student took a reading test – we are to be evaluated based on the school average of student reading proficiency gains.

    Which means an art teacher, a calculus teacher, a special education teacher, a chemistry teacher, a geometry teacher, a civics teacher, an AP English teacher, an AP Psychology teacher (etc…) would now be judged 50% on the basis of kids most of whom they never see and how well their reading improved…a factor beyond our control.

    Many of us were incensed and took to the social media and email to discuss this. Via conversation amongst ourselves and our employer and some of the independent “rebel” union shop stewards, we determined that this change to our evaluation system should be ratified by bargaining unit membership since these specifics described above actually exceeded the terms spelled out in the newly amended Florida Statute 1012.34.

    Yet no word was out on the ratification or voting on the changes. No union townhall meetings were held. No communiques went out. Just an email August 19th from the UTD telling us when we could be trained in the new IPEGS evaluation system…as though it were a done deal.

    It was only after activist teachers began organizing a legal challenge via public communication on Facebook (where 2 current UTD governing board members on the current UTD president’s cabinet were observed to be “lurking”) that UTD sent out a late email August 24th announcing the date of the ratification and the weblink where the vote could be cast…with little explanation as to the very important changes being made to the IPEGS evaluation system. Rather, much was made of what was essentially a “carrot” to incentivize those paying attention to vote in the changes – $14 million in “performance pay” was offered for the affirmative vote but would likely be lost for a “No” vote.

    This was the only announcement made by UTD and it fell far short of the legally required notification for a union contract changing vote.

    Legal challenges were filed with the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) and found sufficient to try UTD for violating State Law against Unfair Labor Practices that involve a union manipulating and coercing employees with respect to their right to have a fair vote on contract changes. Legal challenges were also filed with the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Miami and found sufficiently significant to warrant an emergency hearing scheduled and held September 16th, 2011.

    Funds were raised and petitions were circulated by hundreds of educators. Hundreds of pages of statements and supporting documents were collected and compiled into the legal challenges.

    The Miami Herald was approached in an effort to publicize what surely must be seen as a matter significant to the public.

    Yet in the 3 articles that the Miami Herald published in the last month about the changes to the MDCPS IPEGS evaluation system and the associated performance pay, all of the controversy and the twenty thousand deliberately underinformed yet now aggravated teachers’ voices to the oversimplified and understated “One teacher has challenged the ratification with a state commission.”

    This is after spending an hour on the phone with the reporter explaining the surrounding issues and much of the following supporting documentation that I hope the Miami Herald or some other news agency will investigate.

    After connecting the reporter with many professional educators known for their educational leadership and activism, all of our concerns and activism regarding this evaluation system that many, many teachers view as ludicrous, she boils it all down to “a complaint” of “one teacher.”

    The concerns and criticisms of how the nation’s 4th largest school district and the 2nd largest employer in Florida, Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Race to the Top grant strategy involving the acquisition of $72 million dollars through questionable manipulation of Florida’s Collective Bargaining process rises above “a complaint” of “one teacher.”

    Beyond questions of illegally and insufficiently advertised union votes, the use of unverifiable and already legally challenged Electronic Internet voting, interference in Florida’s Collective Bargaining process, and possible fraudulent usage of Race to the Top “performance pay” to reward financially starving educators for ratifying their insufficiently explained contract changes, what about the overall impact of the policies, strategies, and market forces on the curriculum the children are being served in the wake of these changes?

    As far as what all of this means to the general public, readers whose children are losing the breadth of education that comes with academically free professional educators as imposed testing narrows their curricular focus are going to regret this great educational experiment. The general readers who are parents of children in Miami-Dade whose teachers shift the focus of curriculum from the analytical thinking and problem solving skills associated with photography, civics, geometry, calculus, poetry, chemistry etc to READING are going to be upset when their children demonstrate a deficit in the corresponding skills that have been neglected as teachers “pimp” themselves out curricularly for a shot at increased performance pay for skills not covered by their state course descriptions.

    Supporting documentation:

    There were 2 successive changes to the Miami-Dade teachers’ (and clerical/support staff) contract this summer (2011) – one in June and one in August, both in the last and first weeks of a school year, respectively. The busiest time of the year for teachers. This issue (busyness) in conjunction with several other factors (dealing with the Florida Statutes on Union contract ratification notification to the membership) alerted several teachers to something being suspicious. We have filed 2 Unfair Labor Practice complaints with the organization authorized and tasked with mediating and oversight of Florida’s public employees, employers, and unions – the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC). The complaints have been found sufficient to warrant a hearing over the allegations that the teachers’ union violating Florida Statutes 447.501 (2)(a) – Unfair Labor Practices involving manipulation and coercion of employees with respect to their rights (to have proper notice and time to consider changes to their contract – see ( and ).

    Pertinent facts to questions of whether the RTTT funds were fraudulently misused:

    1. MDCPS employees represented by UTD (teachers & support staff) are the only public school educators in Florida who have not received a raise in the last 2 years (Broward was the other at the time of the writing of the Special Magistrates report, but has since received a raise. See the Special Magistrate’s report, page 25: ).

    2. #1 above, combined with the 2011 double hit of increased healthcare costs and the newly imposed 3% employee contribution to Florida’ Public Employees’ Pension led the Special Magistrate in May 2011 to recommend a 1% “one-time, non-recurring percentage salary increase” for UTD represented employees (see Special Magistrate’s Recommended Decision referenced in #1 above, page 21 – point 2); page 24 – point 5), and page 28 – 1st paragraph, above Conclusion).

    3. June 3 – 7, UTD conducts a contract changing ratification vote via electronic voting on their website described as “Protects Jobs and Insurance,” but fails to mention that it also declines the contractual automatic raise (step increase) for members. The ratification vote has been challenged in PERC and assigned case number CB11076 as mentioned above. Evidence of insufficient advertising includes, among other indisputable facts, the number of alleged participants in the vote – less than 4,000 of the 27,700 members.

    4. July 1, 2011, Florida’s “Student Success Act” (aka, Senate Bill 736) becomes law, requiring up to 50% of a teacher’s evaluation be based on student performance data from approved assessment instruments (latitude exists for educators with students not measured by state approved assessment instruments to have less than 50% of their evaluation based on locally approved – School Improvement Plan-based and Principal approved – instruments).

    5. July 9, 2011, MDCPS produces a training video about the new teacher evaluation model (IPEGS) that is slated to be implemented in School Year 2011-2012. It is shown to most UTD unit members on the 2nd day back to school at a mandatory viewing August 19th, 2011 (most because support staff and many counselors were excluded). It is described as being necessary to be compliant with SB 736/F.S. 1012.34. It introduces the formula that shows all MDCPS educators to be evaluated at the 50% level upon student performance data – those with students measured by state approved assessment instruments (FCAT related) and also those for whom no state approved assessment instrument is available.

    For the latter group, it is explained that school wide reading proficiency gains will be used, a measure that is legally permitted, but exceeds the minimum requirements of SB 736 and thus, subject to UTD ratification. The video not only does NOT indicate this, but repeatedly and deceptively portrays this is a requirement of SB 736 and the consequently amended F.S. 1012.34 (see the video script at , pages 2, 3, & 8. Also note that throughout the video/script, especially pages 22-24, the language “pending UTD unit member ratification” should have been included. Rather, by MDCPS juxtaposing the language “Use school-wide reading proficiency and learning gains” to the constantly quoted F.S. 1012.34 leaves the information-saturated viewer with the conclusion that the changes are simple compliance with statutory changes and are NOT subject to the viewers ratification – which is NOT the case). The deceptive message of this video mandatorily viewed by all teachers should be judged as much on effect as on the logically deconstructed content – teachers viewing this video BELIEVED the IPEGS changes to the extent described were a necessary consequence of SB 736, they did not realize that because the IPEGS terms exceeded SB 736 requirements in the details that they should be given opportunity to ratify the excessive terms.

    6. August 19th, 2011, UTD publishes without advertising to the unit membership a series of links on its webpage ( ) describing the significant changes to the teacher contract as “Race to the Top Ratification Vote” but no where mentions that the changes to the teacher evaluation model IPEGS are actually the bulk of the vote material. Rather, UTD misleadingly describes the significant contract language changes to the IPEGS system as primarily a means to obtaining $14 million in RTTT funds for the 2010 year performance (see and ).

    7. August 19th, 2011, UTD emails teachers an invitation to a series of training meetings on the “IPEGS procedures and changes for the 2011-2012 school year.” The meetings are scheduled, planned and 3 are conducted BEFORE the ratification vote is held as though the ratification is either not necessary or the conclusion of the yet unannounced ratification is foregone ( ).

    8. August 19th, 2011, UTD publishes on its website without advertising to the unit membership the link called “Click here for Contract Ratification Language ,” an excerpt from the 2009-2012 collective bargaining agreement between UTD and MDCPS. The excerpt is Article XIII: Evaluation, 8 pages of description of how teachers will be evaluated. Approximately 50% of the language is crossed out with little or no replacement text. Only the vague reference to the IPEGS Procedural Handbook is made with no explanation as to how to find or access it. Furthermore, tacked on to the end of the 8 pages of Article XIII are 2 pages from MDCPS’ post-facto application for 2010-2011 Performance Pay (see ) – the fact that the content of which had never been seen before by MDCPS teachers coupled with the disjunctive nature of the material (terms of Performance Pay for the past year gone by attached without transition or explanation to the terms of the upcoming years’ proposed changes to the contract language based teacher evaluation system (IPEGS)) and the language used to describe the vote “What a “YES” vote means: • $14 million from last year’s Race to the Top grant funds will be distributed to teachers in the UTD Bargaining Unit” (RTTT-Yes-No document given in #6 above) suggests that the ratification vote had little to do with ratifying clearly understood significant changes to contract language and work conditions and more to do with enticing financially starved employees (see #s 1-2 above) to accept without analysis or criticism the significant changes in return for a few hundred dollars each under the guise of “Performance Pay.” See below (appendix A) for criticism of this so called “Performance Pay.”

    9. Between August 19th and August 29th, 2011, concerned and watchful teachers begin inquiring into the IPEGS changes with both the MDCPS and UTD personnel. Upon realization by August 22nd, 2011 (the first day of school) that a ratification vote SHOULD be conducted, activist teachers begin collecting evidence of what appears to have been intended as an unnoticed ratification vote (allowing a select group of bargaining unit members to participate “by invitation only”). UTD executive board members observed “lurking around” the social media conversation (UTD’s board members Steve Goldman and Tom Lander on Facebook) are speculated to be the cause for #10:

    10. August 24th, 2011, UTD puts out an email to teachers via school email announcing the ratification vote. The email contains no explanatory information other than links to the information listed above in #6. The email is sent 2 business days before the vote (though UTD had signed the agreement months earlier, though UTD had sent 2 other emails on 8/19/11 – one regarding professional leave, the other regarding the ratification related IPEGS training described in #7 above). The email lacks the minimum language required by Florida law to announce a union ratification vote (see CB11073 ). The email is sent during the busiest week of school. The email is not sent to the entire bargaining unit as required by Florida law on union ratification votes (see CB11073 and FAC 60CC-4.002, see ). No other public notification of the vote is given as described in FAC 60CC-4.002. As the vote is scheduled to be conducted by Evote from the UTD website, no ballots are mailed or distributed, no polling stations are set up in the employee workplace. The effect is that only those UTD members who are “in the loop” and sufficiently motivated will be aware of the ratification, and few will actually know the extent of the changes pending ratification beyond the obtainment of “performance pay.” See

    11. No other discussion or fulfillment is known of the Special Magistrate’s recommendation (#2 above) to provide UTD bargaining unit members with a one time salary increase. Furthermore, the application of Federal RTTT funds to teachers a) fails to fulfill the Special Magistrate’s recommendation in that it does nothing for the support staff that are also in the bargaining unit and b) represents a misuse of the assumed intention of “performance pay” – pay offered to “incentivize” a particular work behavior/production (see Appendix A) according to predetermined criteria. MDCPS utilizes Federal RTTT funds under the guise of performance pay to fulfill a recommendation proceeding from the Special Magistrate consequent to an Impasse Hearing of the Collective Bargaining process. The recommendation is for a no-strings attached one-time percentage salary increase since MDCPS teachers are the only teachers in Florida who have not had a raise in the last 2 years but have been subjected to cost of living increases and a new 3% reduction in salary for pension contributions (see #’s 1-3 above).

    12. I question if the use of Federal Race to the Top funds as so called 2010-2011 “Performance” Pay is rather an improper bribe/enticement used by MDCPS and UTD to ensure the passage of the necessary changes to the collective bargaining agreement which exceed the minimum terms of SB 736 in order to bring about MDCPS compliance with the RTTT application/scope of work in order that MDCPS may access the $72 million in Federal RTTT funds. Furthermore, as described in #11, aren’t these Federal RTTT funds also being used, not as true performance pay, but to avoid non-compliance with the Special Magistrates recommendation for a no-strings attached (i.e., NOT performance pay) salary increase?

    Appendix A: From my 2nd letter to the Miami Herald’s/Hechinger Report’s Miami Based reporter:

    A couple questions regarding Miami-Dade County Public School’s September 23rd distribution of “Performance Pay”:

    1) How can it be performance pay if the performance measurements aren’t expressed ahead of time?

    Performance Pay is described as

    a) In the medical field, “a system of reimbursement that pays clinicians bonuses based on predetermined performance measures” – , or

    b) Again, in the medical field, “Financial rewards (or penalties) for meeting or failing to meet predetermined quality measures are expected to lead to improved quality of care” –

    c) In Agriculture, “based on a specific accomplishment-reward connection understood by both management and workers,” “workers understand ahead of time the precise relationship between performance and the incentive reward,” “specific circumstances for eliminating incentives should be clearly related to the incentive and articulated ahead of time,” “tell employees how much they are earning…[they] did not find out what the piece rate was until the end … when they got paid,” workers must show “complete understanding of quality issues ahead of time…,” and “At minimum, all workers need to know what is expected of them and how their performance will translate into pay. It helps when the incentive plan is presented to workers for review and comments before implementation” –


    d) In Business in general, “A clear system of performance appraisal, with defined criteria that are understood by the employee and regularly scheduled meetings must be in place.” –

    2) If it is “performance pay,” why wasn’t it announced ahead of time – both the amount and the criteria for earning it?

    3) If it is “performance pay,” why do the recently revealed terms of MDCPS’ “performance pay” defy industry practice? Consider “Employees must have control over their performance. If employees are overly dependent on the actions and output of other employees or processes, they may have little control over their own performance” – How is it, for example, that Ferguson Science teachers worked SO hard last year to bring up Ferguson Science Scores (see the Herald at ), yet were evaluated secretly (it wasn’t announced ahead of time) that science teachers evaluations for “performance pay” would be based on average MATH scores: “The Mathematics/Science teachers are eligible if the school improves in Mathematics proficiency, increases the percent of student showing learning gains, or increases in performance for students in the lowest 25 percent” –

    4) If it is “performance pay” for 2010-2011, what is it doing TACKED on to the 2011-2012 Contract language change regarding Teacher Evaluations for the upcoming year? Did someone accidentally “virtual” staple it to the wrong “virtual” document? Why wasn’t it voted on separately from the 2011-2012 Contract change? What is its function there? What performance is it measuring? Is it really a reward for teachers (those that knew) voting in the excessive strict evaluation model called IPEGS? See last two pages of . The language used here ( ) suggests that voting affirmative on the UTD Evote page is a vote to get bonus pay when in fact this is just money that Florida Public Employees Relations Commission’s Special Magistrate recommended delivering to educators already (with NO strings attached) ) – see #’s 5 & 7 below.

    In fact, the affirmative vote on UTD’s Evote page actually delivers a change in the contract language to the Teacher Evaluation model (IPEGS) that is more strict, more extreme than what Florida’s newly modified statute (1012.34) requires (modified by Senate Bill 736 in July 2011). This change now makes MDCPS eligible to participate in the Federal Race to the Top program and gains MDCPS $72 MILLION. This change couldn’t have occurred without teacher/support staff voting it in, highly unlikely had it been properly explained and advertised since it puts excessive restrictions/stress on teachers in their evaluation and does NOTHING for support staff. Furthermore, the superficial mentioning of IPEGS here ( ) suggests that the terms of the IPEGS changes are provided in the proposed contract changes, but they are NOT (see ). Rather, the changes proposed are simply “crossed-out” terms from the original. The employee is told nowhere of the actual changes and would only know if he/she studied the misleading MDCPS video presentation that on August 19th, 2011 outlined the IPEGS changes as though they were already in place, already ratified (see ). Therefore, upon analysis of the language UTD used to describe the ratification vote, the manner it was advertised and conducted, one can only conclude that the Aug 29-31 ratification vote was to deliver a bonus for the performance of affirming the insufficiently advertised/noticed and under-explained IPEGS contract language change.

    5) If it isn’t “performance pay,” what is it? MDCPS likes to crow that MDCPS is the “only county in Florida that gave performance pay for 2010.” Could it be that it is actually MDCPS’ tricky method of complying with the Special Magistrate’s directive to give employees “something” (pp. 21 & 24), since MDCPS is actually the only District that has NOT moved its educators along their steps (raises) for the last 2 years? Consider: “It will also be the only District [in Florida]…to not receive an increase in two out of the last three years” –

    6) Is it “fair” and legal (under collective bargaining) for the inequitable criteria used to discriminate between teachers on the same salary schedule, with the same evaluation model (2010 IPEGS), without published evaluation criteria? Though all teachers were theoretically eligible for “Bucket A,” only those “core content area specific and instructional staff in Reading/Language Arts/Social Studies and Math/Science” were eligible for “Bucket B,” and only “Reading/Language Arts or Math teachers” were eligible for “Bucket C,” and only “Reading/Language Arts or Math teachers” with 3 years of data were eligible for “Bucket D.” This means, apart from actual teaching performance (which had not been defined or communicated to teachers ahead of time), many teachers were only eligible for the $500 “Bucket A,” while other teachers were eligible for $26,500. In other words, the performance being rewarded secretly here was having chosen to teach a particular subject at a particular school. I don’t think this so called “performance pay” is legal in terms of collective bargaining.

    7) Why isn’t MDCPS capable of fulfilling its obligation to provide the “support for teachers [, which] is vital if the public expects them to produce quality education…It’s an obligation that Florida citizens even placed in their constitution in Article IX, Section 1: ‘[T]he education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. . . . . Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain high quality education….’ This ‘high quality’ is seen, for example, by a top 5 ranking given to Florida schools. Making and keeping it that way for the welfare of the citizens of Miami-Dade County is obviously the ongoing responsibility of the District (pp. 20 & 21, )”

    Aside from financial cuts, which have affected ALL other counties in Florida, including the 7 other urban districts (“The ‘global economic crisis’ cannot be the sole answer to everything that faces the District….their counterparts in other school districts have received…something”), what has MDCPS been doing with the money? Could it have something to do with the huge and criticized investment of the district in SAP/Enterprise software? (see ). You might say that’s 2 years old…yeah, but so is the implementation. We are just now seeing SAP implementation of the payroll data on our employee portals. How bad is it? Is it related to the numerous law suits and complaints being filed by fired MDCPS employees? (see ). Regardless as to my limited speculation as to why, there must be a reason why 66 other counties can deliver the requisite increases to pay for teachers in Florida all affected by the same funding formula and the same economy.

    I guess my final question is, why isn’t the media interested in this loose accountability with Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Funds in a political and economic climate such as this one where conservatives are rightfully clamoring against poorly accounted public grants and bailouts…and our own MDCPS seems to be playing fast and loose with ARRA Race to the Top funds to bailout their inability to invest in their teachers?

    “How can it be performance pay?” It is…but the performance it rewards is the deceptive ratification of a Teacher Evaluation model that exceeds the requirements of Florida’s newly amended F.S. 1012.34 (affected by July’s passage of the “Student Success Act,” Senate Bill 736). MDCPS’ excessive contract language changes exceed SB 736 because MDCPS requires immediate student performance data as 50% of all educators evaluations, even though SB 736 only required that for the educators for whom FCAT data is available. The others could be reduced to 20-40%, depending on their role. Furthermore, SB 736 provides latitude at the SCHOOL LEVEL to determine the measures of a teacher’s effectiveness (expressed in “goals of the school improvement plan and approved by the school principal”) – suggesting local input at the School Advisory Council level for choosing appropriate measure of teacher effectiveness.


    Shawn Beightol

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