Panel moves closer to licensure plan

A state education committee moved closer Monday to making their recommendations on a teacher licensure system.

July 14 Tiered Licensure
Career Ladder and Tiered Licensure Committee chairman Rod Lewis, left, and co-chair Linda Clark, center, discuss teacher licenses Monday in Meridian.

The State Board of Education’s Career Ladder and Teacher Licensure Committee approved recommendations for a teacher licensure “master level” — which would represent Idaho’s highest-paid teachers.

Master teachers would be eligible to make $60,000 a year, according to one recommendation made in August by Gov. Butch Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education. The State Board committee has been assigned to work out details of the task force recommendations — including the tiered licensure plans and a career salary ladder.

Committee chairman Rod Lewis, a State Board member, said the group is on track to meet its Aug. 1 goal to submit tiered licensure recommendations.

“I’m very pleased with our progress; we have worked in a very timely manner and we’re on schedule,” Lewis said. “I think we’ve had a very open debate and discussion, and come to some good conclusions.”

The committee originally envisioned developing three license tiers, but moved to two tiers after meeting with attorneys and education groups. The first would be an initial, residency tier for beginning teachers. The second would be a professional license, including three designations – standard professional license, contingent license and master license.

The master teacher license recommendations approved Monday would establish a five-year renewable tier. To advance to the master level, teachers would need to meet all requirements for standard professional licensure and amass at least eight years of teaching experience.

Master teachers would also need to meet student achievement growth goals. Within a five-year period, they would have to score highly on performance evaluations for at least three years – including the fourth or fifth year of this review period.

In May, Idaho Education Association leaders objected to tying teacher licenses to local evaluations. Those comments arose during a separate, smaller technical advisory committee meeting. IEA President Penni Cyr is a member of both committees, but she did not attend Monday’s meeting, held at West Ada School District offices in Meridian.

Some members wrestled Monday with philosophical questions about crafting the system. They wanted to provide an incentive to attract and retain teachers, but sought to avoid setting the bar too high or too low.

“I don’t want us to have a bunch of folks out there who have master certificates who are not master teachers,” said Linda Clark, the committee’s co-chair and superintendent of the newly rebranded West Ada School District.

Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, voiced concerns that music, P.E. and social studies teachers were worried they may not qualify for leadership pay as easily as math and reading teachers.

However, Clark said the group was committed to come up with criteria that are “equally attainable by every single teacher.”

The committee has been working on a licensure system since April 7. The group plans to meet again July 29 and finalize these recommendations, before beginning work on a career ladder system.

Licensure plans are expected to go to the State Board of Education for consideration in October, with a report due to Otter in late September. Career ladder plans are expected to be delivered to the Legislature, which reconvenes in January.