The Miami-Dade County Public Schools is proposing to pay bonuses to teachers if it receives $2.3 million as part of the state’s Schools of Hope program, the Miami Herald reports.
The bonuses would be used to attract and retain highly qualified teachers in struggling schools, and Broward County Public Schools is also competing for the funds and would allocate some of the money toward teacher bonuses.
The program allocates $2,000 per student to spend in schools where student achievement has been declining, and only 25 traditional public schools will be chosen for the program.
The Schools of Hope law is controversial because part of the plan calls for bringing in charter management organizations to open schools near the struggling ones. Supporters of the plan say students deserve to attend more successful schools, while opponents say the state should instead spend the funds on additional services that could help low-income students perform better academically.
The plan also raises the question of whether increases in teacher pay can lead to growth in student achievement. A 2014 study appearing in the Journal of Public Economics showed that increasing teacher pay can lead to higher teacher retention and ultimately gains in student performance. An earlier study focusing on the San Francisco Unified School District suggests that increasing teacher pay can lead to a larger applicant pool from which to choose more qualified teachers.
Surveys of teachers, however, have long suggested that working conditions are almost as important to teachers as compensation. Many states now administer the Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning Survey to get a better understanding of how teachers feel about issues such as how they spend their time, professional development opportunities and opportunities for leadership.