Official transcript not good enough for Florida’s Best and Brightest, DOE says

by: Jeffrey S. Solochek|Tampa Bay Times

Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Florida teachers thinking they can use their school transcripts to qualify for the state’s controversial Best and Brightest bonus system better think again.

The Department of Education issued a memo late last week saying that teachers must submit an “official” record of their SAT or ACT score to qualify for the award. And by “official,” the document stated, that meant an “original score report.”

Not the scores as listed on a school transcript.

That interpretation flies in the face of what districts have understood as teachers scramble to pull together all the forms they need to apply for the bonus of up to $10,000 by the Oct. 1 deadline.

“We originally understood that we would be able to use transcripts as an official document for SAT or ACT scores,” Citrus assistant superintendent Mike Mullen told teachers in a Tuesday email. “The recent Technical Assistance Paper (TAP), (specifically question 7), indicates that districts are to only accept an official score report from SAT or ACT as documentation of scores. We are challenging this answer (as some teachers are relying on their transcripts as official documentation) and we are waiting on a more specific response from DOE.”

Getting an archived score report, meanwhile, costs about $30 and takes some time, so Citrus has advised teachers to start the process, just in case.

Citrus School Board chairman Thomas Kennedy again questioned the value of what he termed an “inappropriate” merit pay program, which puts more emphasis on teachers’ old college entrance exams than on their performance in the classroom.

“I cannot be completely upset with the Florida Department of Education as they did not approve this ‘assessment based bonus’ for teachers,” he told the Gradebook via email. But “they have been put in the situation of having to facilitate a very poorly thought-out law which will fund $44 million dollars for teacher’s ACT or SAT scores taken when they were high school students.”

Stay tuned.

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