Grant to fund new evaluations

By: 
Dec. 9, 2010

The four-year grant will start a new system for tying teacher pay to student performance.

Some teachers won’t like it, but they know it’s coming.

Race to the Top, a program that ties teacher salary to student performance and progress, is now officially funded, thanks to a four-year state and federal grant worth $828,941. The program will establish a new evaluation system for teachers, principals and directors.

Many details are yet to be determined, but state test scores will be included as a way to measure student performance.

“It’s really geared toward making sure … every single kid is successful. It puts the money where the mouth is,” said Stewart Maxcy, Flagler County project director for Race to the Top.

He added: “Whether or not students make progress is what it’s all about, anyway.”

Maxcy will be developing a team of teachers and administrators to help develop the evaluation system.

“I want it to be a group effort — I want input from the people it affects,” Maxcy said. “We would like to design it ourselves around the state mandates, rather than having them do it for us.”

The grant money will cover new software, Maxcy’s salary and stipends for teachers and administrators who put in extra time. As needed, while those teachers are pulled away from their classrooms, the grant will also pay for substitute teachers. No dollars will need to come out of the general fund.

The new software will allow comprehensive access to student data. With one touch, educators will be able to pull up student grades, test scores and progress.

Eventually, parents would have access to this data through an online system, Maxcy said.

The grant also focuses on developing high school career and technical programs that will provide training for occupations requiring science, technology or math.

Although Race to the Top is closely related to Senate Bill 6, Maxcy said he didn’t want to compare it to merit pay. Still, he said, “I don’t think that it’s going to be real popular.”

But because the union was required to sign off on the initial grant application, Maxcy said teachers know it is coming.

HIGH SCHOOLS GRADED B

Final high school grades for the 2009-10 school year were released this week.
Flagler Palm Coast High School made the biggest improvement, jumping from a D in 2008-09 to a B this year.

FPC’s graduation rate for at-risk students increased from 72% to 79%.
Matanzas High School maintained its B grade this year and increased its overall graduation rate from 84% to 90%.

Heritage Academy, a pre-K-to-12 combination school did not receive a score last year because of a lack of students. This year the school earned a grade of F, with 30% of students meeting standards in math.