In 2009, the Foundation partnered with the American Institutes for Research to develop a statistically-sound method to identify Florida’s greatest teachers.

The model was used to identify participants in the focus groups for the Secrets of Successful Teaching, who were also winners of the 2009 Excel Award. The students of these educators learned at least 1.5 times, or 50 percent more, than the average student, based on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores for three consecutive years. Teachers earned this level of learning with students in one or more of seven categories:

  • All students
  • High achieving students
  • Students performing below grade level
  • Students in economically disadvantages families (eligible for free and reduced price lunch) (new category in 2009)
  • Students learning English as a second language
  • Students with disabilities, and
  • Students in charter schools (new category in 2009)

To be eligible for a 2009 Excel Award, teachers must have:

  • Taught during the 2006-2007, 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 school years
  • Taught a reading or math course
  • Taught students in fourth through tenth grade
  • Taught students with FCAT scores at least two years in a row

Focus groups consisted of up to ten teachers and a moderator.