Master educator premium reviews hit some glitches

The state has run into a few glitches as it reviews applications for the new master educator premium.

But the State Board of Education is still hoping to award the $4,000-a-year bonuses by its Sept. 1 deadline.

The premiums are designed to reward high-performing veteran teachers with at least eight years’ classroom experience. More than 1,400 teachers applied for the premiums, completed detailed and lengthy portfolios laying out their case for a share of the funding.

But technical problems — such as bad links — have plagued some of the applications, making it difficult for reviewers to go over the portfolios. The State Board has hired two temporary employees to help sort out the applications and the link problems, spokesman Mike Keckler said Wednesday.

And there’s another hiccup. The State Board hired more than 300 teachers to review portfolios and recommend whether an applicant deserves a bonus. But with the school year approaching, six of these teachers had to bow out of the job, Keckler said.

This is the first year the state has awarded the master educator premium, and the rollout hasn’t been seamless.

By the State Board’s own estimates, between 8,000 and 10,000 teachers probably met the minimum requirements for the premiums, which means thousands of veteran educators didn’t apply for a share of the money. Idaho’s reigning teacher of the year, Marc Beitia of American Falls High School, was among those who didn’t apply — saying he and many fellow educators simply don’t have the time to fill out a portfolio, a job that has taken some teachers as much as 120 hours.

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Meanwhile, a co-chair of Gov. Brad Little’s K-12 task force has questioned the effectiveness of the program, and the wisdom of expecting employees to fill out such a time-consuming application for a bonus. “I would never run any company this way,” Boise businessman Bill Gilbert said last month.

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