The state of Florida has also revamped teacher evaluations to expand the spectrum to more than just "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory" and ties student achievement data to evaluations.
In addition, teachers are now hired on annual contracts, and student performance plays a role in potential layoffs and compensation.
"Changing this was not easy. Was it controversial? Yes," said Mary Laura Bragg, national director for policy and implementation for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which has overseen Florida's education programs and is run by Jeb Bush. "But I'm a teacher ... and we all know who the worst teachers are in the school because we complain about them. We don't want our children to have them.
"We are a very protective group. We want to be treated professionally -- we clamor for it, we demand it -- but then we don't want it to change when it might impact us."
Bragg said that while Florida's journey has not been easy, West Virginia is on the right path.
"This was a hard-fought battle. Implementation of this was not easy, and it is definitely ongoing. But teachers are already at the table and you've got community leaders, business leaders, state policymakers," Bragg said. "With the momentum that you already have and the things that are already happening in West Virginia, you have such a great opportunity to shape this."
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.