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Merit pay debate far from over

Sen. Anitere Flores has a simple fix for a complex problem.

The problem: Teachers have serious issues with the complicated new formula that will be used to evaluate them and determine pay raises. Some are being judged by the performance of students they’ve never met.

The fix, as Flores describes it: “We are going to link teacher evaluations to the students they actually teach.”

So far this session, Flores’ proposal is the lone attempt by Florida lawmakers to fine tune the controversial merit-pay program set to kick in next year. Democrats, Republicans and non-partisan education groups have praised her idea for its simplicity, and agree it’s a good starting point.

But behind the scenes, the situation is much more complicated. Teachers have doubts about the model that will determine their effectiveness. And the Department of Education must simultaneously roll out a new curriculum, tests and technology. So many questions linger that groups like the state teachers’ union and the Florida School Boards Association are urging lawmakers to hit the brakes.

“We need to slow this down now to avoid a big hullabaloo at the end of the year,” said Wayne Blanton, the association’s executive director. “We only have once chance to get this right.”

Read the story here: