Technology, Florida Gov. Rick Scott says, is an essential component to teaching the state's next generation of leaders.
So the use of technology should be prioritized in the state education system. As part of the major education reforms he promoted during his campaign for governor, Scott said technology must be used in the classroom and must become part of the evaluation of educators.
"The assessment of teacher quality must include the incorporation of change in the classroom," Scott said on his campaign website as part of his education proposals. "The incorporation of technology, new delivery media, societal change all impact learning styles and ultimately the ability of our students to meet the ever-changing requirements in the workforce."
SB 736, which passed the Senate 26-12 on March 10, 2011, and the House 80-39 less than a week later, changes the way teachers are evaluated, and ties their evaluation to the performance of their students.
The bill was signed into law on March 24 by Scott. It requires that teachers be evaluated each year. At least 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation must be based on their students' performance on annual end-of-year exams. The other criteria for the evaluation are broadly defined by legislators as "instructional practice," "instructional leadership" and "professional and job responsibilities." Using those measures, teachers would then be rated "highly effective," "effective," "needs improvement" or "unsatisfactory." Raises, or no raise, would correspond to each rating.
The law as it's written does not specifically address the use of technology.
Interestingly, an earlier version of SB 736 did. A draft bill said evaluation criteria must include the "ability to plan and deliver instruction and the use of technology in the classroom."
But that language was stricken out of the final bill that passed and was signed into law.
It appears to have been replaced with a broader requirement that evaluation criteria be based on the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices, which are six general standards adopted by the State Board of Education.
The standards are titled "Instructional Design and Lesson Planning," "The Learning Environment," "Instructional Delivery and Facilitation," "Assessment," "Continuous Professional Improvement" and "Professional Responsibility and Ethical Conduct."
Each standard comes with a number of subcomponents.
Under "Instructional Delivery and Facilitation," the standards do address technology. Teachers should "apply varied instructional strategies and resources, including appropriate technology, to provide comprehensible instruction, and to teach for student understanding."
And in the "Assessment" section, teachers are asked to apply "technology to organize and integrate assessment information." You can read the entire set of standards here.
So technology could ultimately become part of teacher evaluations because it is mentioned in the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices. But a specific provision requiring technology to be part of evaluations was ultimately removed from the bill that passed and Scott signed. To us, that's less of an accomplishment than Scott promised to deliver during the campaign. We rate this promise a Compromise.