Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Interdisciplinary Education

Major Professor

Howard Johnston, Ph.D.


Merit pay, Pay for performance, Teacher leadership, Resource reallocation, School reform


In 2003, the Florida legislature appropriated funds to finance pilot programs (1012.231, Florida Statutes) to prepare for the 2004-2005 school year in which pay for performance initiatives were to be implemented in each district. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine and describe the planning, processes, and implications of a pilot career ladder program that was implemented into a large Florida school district in the spring of 2004. During data collection, the program was terminated therefore creating a second purpose that sought to describe residual implications of a program when it is discontinued. Data collected for this study were used to respond to six specific research questions. The first inquired about the planning process prior to implementation. Archival documents were used to determine whether research-based strategies were involved.

The second through the fifth questions rely heavily on survey and structured interview data collected by the district and the primary researcher respectively and seek to determine critical perspectives from teachers and administrators regarding the career ladder including knowledge, fairness, and implications for school and district. The sixth question asks whether residual effects remain in place after an initiative has been terminated. Particularly, as a major finding, time for implementation was a theme throughout the study as most respondents were concerned about the short timeline this program had to develop fully. Stakeholder buy-in and understanding of program roles emerged from the data. However, the notion of a mentor that was given the time and resources was frequently mentioned as a benefit to new teachers and the school overall.

Furthermore, respondents saw the potential long-term benefit of staff development that would allow highly trained master teachers to coach new and struggling teachers during the day in a clinical setting. There was evidence that this program did have an initial negative impact on the culture of the schools in the district. One unplanned aspect of this case study was the fact that the program was terminated at the state level. This had implications for all stakeholders and could be a strong factor in later implementations; therefore, this would require further study.