Thursday, February 17, 2011

SB736: Entering the Twilight Zone

A fast moving thriller or spicy romance novel would be more entertaining and satisfying than reading a legislative analysis. Since accuracy and facts are hard to come by, I spent some time reading the now four analyses written for SB736. The analysts deserve credit for having written the document in clear English, free of mumbo jumbo, and easy to read. They cannot be blamed if the bill they describe does not make sense.

I noted a change in Section 5. Fiscal Impact Statement. In the two versions presented to the Appropriations Subcommittee, the sentence, the fiscal impact of this bill is indeterminate, has been deleted. Instead there is a paragraph describing what Race to the Top funding will cover and assistance to be provided by the DOE.

Florida’s Race to the Top (RTTT) grant will support the development of a revised teacher evaluation system as provided in this bill. Grant funds will enable the Department of Education to develop end-of-course assessments, item banks and components, such as the value-added model, for the evaluation system. The DOE will assist school districts in their development of assessment items that may be used for locally developed assessments.

During the next three years the grant will provide funding for the development of end-of-course exams in most subject areas. Additional resources may be necessary to maintain an assessment item bank or platform at the conclusion of the grant period.

District practices relating to the evaluation, compensation, and employment of instructional personnel and school administrators that are not consistent with the bill will need to be revised and implemented in accordance with bill implementation timelines.

SB736 is on the schedule for the Senate Budget committee on February 23. One can only hope that committee members are competent to conduct a complete cost analysis. Here are a few questions that need to be addressed:

1) Districts who agreed to participate in Race to the Top are recipients of funding. The analysis is silent on the costs required for those districts who chose not to participate and where the finds would come from.
2) While the DOE will provide "resources" to school districts, the analysis is silent on the amount of local monetary and manpower resources required to implement SB736 requirements. What is the fiscal impact on school districts and where will that funding come from?

SB736 is a complex bill with complex requirements. While the legislature and the Governor wrangle over further cuts to the education budget, the public has a right to have the facts on SB736.

Read the legislative analysis here:

Missed a blog on SB736 or want to read one again? You will find them all here.

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