Group Title: Office of Educational Research bulletin.
Title: Office of Educational Research bulletin. March 2006.
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Title: Office of Educational Research bulletin. March 2006.
Uniform Title: Office of Educational Research bulletin.
Physical Description: Newspaper
Creator: Office of Educational Research, University of Florida
Publisher: Office of Educational Research, University of Florida
Publication Date: March 2006
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Bibliographic ID: UF00088878
Volume ID: VID00034
Source Institution: University of Florida
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Office of Educational Research
College of Education
March 2006

Office of Educational Research Bulletin (ORB)


Mark your calendars for the following March 2006
events at the COE!

Fien Lecture Series: Luis Moll, associate dean for
academic affairs and professor of language, reading
and culture at the University of Arizona, College of
Education will be presenting on "The Cultural
Mediation of Thinking: From Funds of Knowledge to
New Activity Systems"this Monday, March 6, 2006
at 3:30 p.m. in the Terrace Room of Norman Hall.
Samples of Moll's work may be accessed
through Maria Coady's E-Reserves page: Go to the
UF Libraries Homepage; find Course Reserves; go
to Coady's account (search by instructor's name)
and click on her Fien Lecture Series 'course,' where
three articles by Moll and colleagues are posted for
your review.

College Research Incentive Fund (CRIF)
2006: applications are due to Susie Welch at 125
Norman by 5:00p.m., Friday March 10, 2006.

B.O. Smith Professorship: proposals due to
Susie Welch at 125 Norman by 5:00p.m., Friday
March 24, 2006.

March Brown Bag: Hosted by Doreen Ross,
School of Teaching and Learning, Scientifically Valid
Research and the Scientific Method: What are the
implications for us as a research community? A
conversation based on Norman Edmund's USDOE-
IES work titled: "Report on the Relationship of the
Scientific Method to Scientifically Valid Research
and Education Research." (Look for a copy of the
report in our upcoming brown bag announcement.)
Wednesday, March 22, 12:00 to 1:00p.m., in 158
Norman. Bring your lunch; beverages and cookies
will be provided.

Guest Faculty Column New ORB Feature:
The OER is pleased to announce a new forum for
COE faculty to voice concerns and opinions
regarding critical issues in education today. There is

no shortage of challenges currently touching all
levels of educational policy, research, and practices.
We invite your contributions to these ongoing
debates. Our first Office of Educational Research
Bulletin guest columnist- and March Brown Bag
facilitator- Doreen Ross, shares her thoughts on the
recent FLDOE announcement regarding teacher
merit pay. What do you think... ?


Improving Our Schools through Merit Pay: A
Flawed Policy
Dorene Ross, School of Teaching and Learning

Florida policy makers have decided to reward
the most meritorious teachers (top 10%) on the
basis of their individual performance as instructors,
based when possible on students' gain scores on
the FCAT as a way to recruit and retain high quality
teachers and improve the quality of our educational
system. If this plan has merit, one would think that
educational professionals would herald it. Yet this
has not been the case. A question our policy
makers should ask themselves is why teachers and
principals are speaking out against this plan with
almost one voice. The most likely explanation is
that those who actually do the work in schools
recognize the idea as a seriously flawed and
unworkable response to the problems of
recruitment and retention of high quality teachers.
Consider just a few of the many concerns about
the implementation of this merit pay system that
might be raised. 1) In judging 10% of the teachers
as meritorious, we judge 90% as non-meritorious.
What if 75% of the teachers are meritorious? Is
this a system that will encourage or discourage the
majority of teachers? 2) FCAT is given in February.
Should we reward the teacher who taught the
children from March to June or the teacher who
taught the children from August to February? 3)
One of the research based reading programs
advocated for use in low performing schools,



regroups students several times a year on the basis
of their reading performance. If a high-performing
student has been taught by two or three different
teachers, which one should get "credit" for the
child's score? 4) A strong school is created by
collaboration among faculty who share what they
know about effective teaching to enhance the
performance of every learner. How can this kind of
culture be created or sustained by asking teachers
to compete against one another for salary? 5)
Similarly, our most effective schools marshal every
available resource to facilitate the academic
improvement of struggling learners. If children's
scores go up, who should get the credit-the
reading classroom teacher? The after-school tutor?
The staff member who mentors the child? The
social studies teacher who teaches the child how to
distill the main points from a textbook? The reading
coach or special education teacher who provided
supplemental reading instruction during the school
day? 6) The base salary for teachers in Florida falls
well below the national average. Is it reasonable to
believe that a merit plan that will benefit 10% of
the teachers will impact our efforts in recruitment
and retention?
The current merit pay plan is ill-conceived. It is
clear that our policy makers fail to understand the
collaborative efforts required to impact student
achievement. Teachers who are competing against
one another for scarce resources are less likely to
help one another by sharing their professional
expertise. Additionally, a system that rewards few
cannot possibly draw people to the profession.
Even if the merit pay plan were structured in a way
to reward collaborative effort within schools, it is
too narrowly focused on FCAT. The skills assessed
by FCAT are important but they are not the only
skills and abilities that should be taught in schools.

There is already too much focus on test
performance, which unfortunately is only loosely
correlated to real life achievement. Teachers and
students are already working hard. If we respected
teachers we would ask them what they need to
improve teaching and learning. In my conversations
with teachers they repeatedly argue for more time
and more resources. A better idea for retaining
teachers and improving our schools comes from a
local principal who suggested we should pay
teachers for 12 months a year and give them time
to work together--time for professional
development, time for rigorous analysis of students'
learning in the previous year, and time for
collaborative curriculum planning. This is an idea
that is respectful of teachers, their knowledge, their
commitment, and their dedication. This is an idea
that is respectful of teachers, their knowledge, their
commitment, and their dedication-and one that is
more likely than merit pay to have broad impact on
FCAT scores.


Congratulations are in order for Mickie Miller
(Alliance) for her USDOE award to support the
Cascading Tutoring Model Project, and to Gail
Choice (STL) who submitted and received funding
from the City of Gainesville for her America Reads
proposal. Best wishes to Charlie Hailey
(Architecture) and Maria Coady (STL) for their
Research and Graduate Programs Opportunity Seed
Fund proposal. For more details about these awards
and submissions, see the tables on the next page.

ORB March 2006

College of Education Funded Projects February 2006
Principal Investigator: R.D. Miller
Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Education
Proposal Title: Florida CHESP at UF: Cascading Tutoring Model Project
Project Period: 01/01/06 08/31/06
Annual Award Amount: $22,000.00

Principal Investigator: A.G. Choice
Funding Agency: City of Gainesville, Fla.
Proposal Title: America Reads
Project Period: 03/01/06 05/31/07
Annual Award Amount: $10,000.00

College of Education Submitted Proposals February 2006
Principal Investigator: A.G. Choice
Funding Agency: City of Gainesville, Fla.
Proposal Title: America Reads
Requested Amount: $10,000.00

Principal Investigator: Charlie Hailey Co-PI: Maria Coady
Funding Agency: RGP Opportunity Seed Fund
Proposal Title: Research/Design/Build for Florida's Migrant Communities Collaborative Research and
Service Learning Between Architecture and Education
Requested Amount: $48,789.00

ORB March 2006

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