At the beginning of this school year I sent an email urging all CTA members to sign-up to take either the SAT or ACT to attempt to qualify for the $6,000 state funded Best and Brightest Scholarship Program bonus.
Last month, the Florida Legislature renewed these bonuses and once again, fully funded them in the budget for next school year. As such, I am again urging all teachers to make an attempt to qualify for this substantial bonus.
The PBCCTA, along with FEA/AFT/NEA and every other local union in the state of Florida find this manner of awarding compensation to teachers to be absurd and shameful. No honest person can pretend that there is any correlation between teacher efficacy in the classroom and standardized test scores taken by said teachers during their youth. I know for many teachers this is a slap in the face to our profession that is too obnoxious to overlook; leading many to outright refuse to sit for these exams and qualify for the bonus. I fully understand and respect that outrage and position.
However, the reality we face is that the Best and Brightest Scholarship Program exists and it presents an opportunity for classroom teachers to earn an additional $6,000 (pre-tax) for next school year. The current language in the state statute not only presents this opportunity for the 18-19 school year, but for many years to come. The potential additional earnings of $6,000 annually over each of the next few school years can not be dismissed. Once you qualify, you are qualified in perpetuity (as long as you also obtain a Highly Effective final evaluation each year) and will not need to ever take the tests or submit scores again. (REMEMBER…right now the JENC negotiation team for CTA is aggressively pushing changes to reduce subjectivity and increase overall results for teachers on their evaluations. Our efforts to make the evaluation system more objective and fair WILL LEAD TO NOTABLE INCREASES IN TEACHERS RATED HIGHLY EFFECTIVE. There have been many teachers who have come to CTA saying there is no chance they will get Highly Effective, so even with the necessary SAT/ACT scores, there is no way to qualify. I urge all teachers to disregard that concern, as the evolving evaluation system will lead to many teachers who have historically been denied Highly Effective ratings, receiving them as we move forward.)
CTA is in the process of arranging for SAT/ACT test prep seminars for our members in the near future. More information will go out about these future test prep events via email as they are formally arranged.
Click the image below to follow a link to the PBCSD webpage that provides all of the information you need to know about the Best and Brightest Scholarship Program. The link provides a great summary of common questions and answers about the program, as well as the scores required to achieve the 80th percentile in any given year a test has been taken.
In order to qualify, test scores must be submitted to the district no later than November 1, 2018. The following list contains the upcoming SAT/ACT testing dates, deadlines, and score release dates. In order to qualify and submit scores on time for the 2018 deadline, these are the only dates between now and then you will be able to sit for the tests. If you take a test after these specific testing opportunities, you can use those qualifying scores to submit for 2019, but any testing date beyond those listed below WILL NOT PRODUCE SCORES IN TIME TO SUBMIT by November 1, 2018.
Additionally, I will speak to my own personal experience with the Best and Brightest Program in hopes of further persuading you to sign up and give it a shot.
I have been a Social Science teacher for the past 10+ years. I have not taken a serious math class since my junior year of high school (2001). I was never a “math person” and did not take them seriously at the time. Basically, I would label my formal math background as non-existent. That being said, I took the SAT in the Spring 2015 and managed to get the scores needed to obtain the bonus. The reason I speak to this is because the most common reason I have heard teachers state for their unwillingness to even attempt to take the SAT/ACT is that they will never do well enough on the math section to qualify for the bonus. You need to obtain a composite score in the 80th percentile or better if you take the test this year to qualify for the bonus . As a result, you do not need exceptional math scores on these tests. A really good reading score on the SAT can compensate for an average, or even less than average math scores. There is no need to let the math component of these exams intimidate you.
The point is that the composite score makes things a lot easier for everyone in their efforts to qualify. If you are a math/science teacher and proficient in the content areas of math tested on the SAT/ACT…you really need to take these tests and try to qualify. The toughest aspect of the test for most people is your bread and butter!
To prepare for the math section I watched and memorized as many Khan Academy SAT math test prep videos that I could stomach. I did this with spare time here and there for weeks leading up to the exam date. I also took as many practice math SAT exams and reviewed their answers as possible. It takes time, dedication, and is obviously frustrating as an adult and a professional to be subjected to jumping through these hoops to obtain better pay…but if you end up qualifying for the bonus, it will have been more than worth it.
Click the image below and follow the line to the SAT prep section on the Khan Academy website; navigate through and get a feel for the site.
With regards to the reading/language sections, my best personal tip is to find and take online practice exams. The key is to go into them with the mentality that what you are reading is the most important thing you have ever read in your life and could be the difference between you earning tens of thousands of additional dollars in compensation or not (because it literally is, thanks to the Florida Legislature). If you are even just an average reader and enter into the test with that mentality, you will do better than you expect.
Click the image below to see released exams from CollegeBoard.
I’ve forced you to read long enough, so I will leave you with the following…
Do not let the people who crafted this terrible legislation get you down. Show them that a law and massive bonus crafted explicitly to reward and attract brand new teachers out of college with zero experience; while simultaneously trying to keep veteran teachers away from qualifying HAS FAILED. Veteran teachers across the county and state of Florida are qualifying and capturing a bonus that was by design, never meant for them. It is my job to help you earn as much compensation as possible. Sadly, the Best and Brightest Scholarship Program is part of that equation.
If you have any questions feel free to email me directly at Justin.Katz@floridaea.org or the PBCSD at BestandBrightest@palmbeachschools.org