$15.8 million allocated to recruit, retain high-performing teachers across Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Florida education commissioner said Monday that $15.8 million will be used to recruit and retain high-performing educators for high-need schools across the state.

    • The Florida Department of Education is getting these funds from the federal Unified School Improvement Grant, which provides states annually with resources to raise the achievement of students in the lowest-performing schools.
  • Eligible teachers will receive as much as $15,000 in supplements.
  • 20 Duval County Public Schools are considered low-performing.

Twenty schools in Duval County scored a D or F this school year.

Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole asked the Florida Department of Education how it’s working to ensure those same schools have teachers who can help change that.

Nakeisha Tinsley has been a teacher at Matthew Gilbert Middle school for 23 years.

"It's pretty much like a family,” Tinsley told Cole. And just like with any family, there are challenges.

Tinsley said her school received a C grade this year but it has received D's in the past.

One of those challenges is trying to raise the grade they receive from the state.

"We deal with students that come from, sometimes, low-economic environments, gang violence, single-parent homes, stuff like that,” said Tinsley.

Another challenge is having enough teachers and getting them to stay.


"Give us the extra money so we can have the extra teachers,” Tinsley said.

On Tuesday, Richard Corcoran, the commissioner of education, announced an initiative to attract 
high-quality teachers to D or F schools like Timucuan Elementary and Southside Middle.

Duval County has 20 schools that scored a D or an F this year. That's about 17% of the schools in the district.

"And so with that being said, we need the extra help,” Tinsley said.

The Department of Education is prepared to use $15.8 million to pay eligible, highly effective or effective teachers who already teach at Title I schools a one-time, lump sum of up to $15,000.

The teachers could then use that money for resources to improve their students’ performance.

Tinsley told Cole she thinks the program is a great idea but believes one major flaw could prevent many teachers from being eligible.

Eligibility is based on what's called a valued-added model calculation.

Teachers receive VAM scores from the state. The scores are based on student performance on state tests and other factors that predict student performance.

"Sometimes you have students who are low-bottom quartile, so sometimes they aren't at the level of other students … so sometimes the VAM scores don't reflect the wonderful teachers that are standing in front of them,” Tinsley told Cole.

Cole asked the Duval County School District how many teachers here would be eligible for the incentive.

A spokesmen for DCPS told Cole since VAM scores don't arrive until one to two weeks before school starts, the district can't answer that question just yet.

However, Cole learned from the district that there were 254 teachers at low-performing schools that had an “effective” VAM score last year and 44 that had a “highly-effective” VAM score last year, as well.

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