The Lee County School Board has given its new superintendent five performance incentive goals for the coming school year with all but one keyed to school or teacher achievement.
In addition to minimum job requirements and strategic plan goals, Joseph Burke will work to achieve:
a 4 percent increase in the number of schools earning a state-determined "A" or "B" school grade;
the school system's status as a state-classified "A" district;
4 percent increase in the number of students identified as college or career ready;
a teacher evaluation system with a compensation model based on student learning outcomes and a career ladder; and
reduce the transportation budget 6 percent.
The target date for accomplishment is Dec. 12, 2012, with each goal worth up to $2,000 if achieved.
It's an ambitious scope of work that targets areas appropriately marked as top priorities such as district achievement, a local option to state efforts to tie teacher compensation to the classroom and the need for transportation efficiencies in a "school choice" district.
We are disappointed, however, that strategic plan priorities that are student-specific were not among Burke's board-set incentive goals.
Worthy goals based on student achievement could have been:
produce more graduates and fewer dropouts;
achieve measurable academic improvement for minority and exceptional student education students;
increase the number of students achieving level 3 to 5 scores on the state-required FCAT; and
measurable improvement in student SAT scores.
It's nice to be an "A" school and district. There's lots of each in Florida, which is improving its ranking among the states in terms of academic achievement.
But nearly a quarter of fourth-graders are not reading on grade level. Math scores are just marginally better. For older students, standardized test scores have not improved. The number of students not meeting state benchmarks is worse at higher grade levels.
Whether this measures up favorably against comparable districts or state averages is not the issue. The number of students leaving the district with solid reading and math skills is the bottom line issue.
This is where Burke's achievement will truly be measured come December.
Key student-based strategic objectives were not formally prioritized with incentive goal designations. They should have been. Students are still the school district's primary product.
- Gasparilla Gazette editorial