At least 1,200 apply for master educator premiums

An estimated 1,250 people have applied for new salary incentives known as master educator premiums, State Board of Education officials said Tuesday afternoon.

Passed by the 2015 Legislature, the master educator premiums are designed to reward Idaho’s most experienced and effective educators with an annual “premium” — or bonus — of $4,000 for three consecutive years.

The 2019 Legislature set aside $7.2 million to pay for the first year of premiums. That would be more than enough to pay everyone who has applied so far, even if every applicant met the criteria.

The State Board asked for the applications to be turned in by June 30, but the deadline has been extended to 5 p.m. Friday to ensure that nobody has technology problems uploading their portfolios, Chief Planning and Policy Officer Tracie Bent said.

In the coming days, State Board officials will verify whether the applicants meet the minimum requirements — including eight years of teaching experience, including at least the past three years in Idaho.

From there, a group of 323 teachers will review the applications and portfolios to decide who will receive the premiums. Each evaluator will first participate in a training session this month.

The bar for earning a premium is high — after all, the program is designed to provide a salary incentive for the state’s elite veteran educators.

Once the applications are evaluated, State Board officials hope to notify premium recipients some time in August, Bent said. The $4,000 premiums will be awarded with a teacher’s salary for the upcoming school year. School district and charter officials will determine how to pay out the premiums through their local payroll systems, much like they have done with a separate leadership premium program.

Only a fraction of eligible educators have applied for the master teacher premium. The state estimated that 8,000 to 10,000 educators would meet the minimum requirements. About 18,000 instructional and pupil services employees work across Idaho. A pool of some 1,250 applicants would mean thousands of eligible teachers did not apply for bonuses.

In a guest opinion last week, Caldwell social studies teacher Levi Cavener said he would not be applying for a premium, because the process was onerous and required a mountain of paperwork.

In response, State Board executive director Matt Freeman wrote that it takes time to compile the necessary information for the application. However, legislators made it clear they expected a high bar for the premiums, and did not want the awards based solely on years in the classroom. The law requires applicants to meet “qualifications showing demonstrated mastery of instructional techniques and professional practice through multiple measures.”




Clark Corbin

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