07/18/2012 12:27 pm ET

Florida Educators Concerned Higher Testing Standards For Teachers Could Lead To Shortage

Tables have turned for some Florida educators after the state Department of Education announced they want teachers to earn higher grades on their certification exams, WFTV reports.

But some, such as Andrew Spar, president of the Volusia Teachers Organization, have argued that the higher testing standards could lead to a shortage of teachers, particularly for science classes.

"What's worse, in my opinion, is having a classroom that has a substitute because we haven't been able to get a teacher who is certified and capable of being in that classroom," Spar told WFTV.

For example, 1,000 people passed the certification test to teach biology last year. According to the station, only 250 would have made the grade under the higher standards, which would go into effect this September.

The push for new standards comes in the wake of another controversial piece of education-related legislation in the state: merit-based pay for teachers.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the new assessment system took effect in the 2011-12 school year and uses student test score information to judge the quality of the teacher and help determine their pay.

The new program was met with criticism from some Florida teachers.

"It's been humiliating for a lot of extremely accomplished people," Mary Louise Wells, a longtime Orange County teacher told the Sentinel.

"I definitely felt it didn't capture everything I was doing," English teacher Liz Randall told the paper.