Committee finalizes licensure plans

Over the state teachers’ union’s objections, a state committee completed its recommendations for a new teacher licensure system Tuesday.

July 29 Tiered Licensure
Committee members discuss tiered teacher licensure proposals Tuesday at the West Ada School District offices in Meridian.

The Career Ladder / Tiered Licensure Committee, a subgroup of the State Board of Education’s Education Improvement Committee, is expected to bring the recommendations to the State Board’s October meeting.

The committee, formed to implement reform recommendations from Gov. Butch Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education, has been working on tiered licensure – or teacher certification – since April 7.

In the most basic sense, the committee called for two tiers: a residency certificate for beginning teachers and a professional certificate for teachers who have worked longer than three years.

Digging deeper, the plan includes a standard professional certificate and a master professional certificate, designated by how long a teacher has served and whether they have met proficiency and student growth goals outlined by the state and school districts. On top of that, there is a contingent professional certificate for teachers who do not meet all renewal requirements of the professional certificate and an interim certificate for out-of-state teachers moving into Idaho.

“With hope, when we’re done with this work, every student has a highly effective teacher in every classroom and every teacher is compensated well,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, a member of the committee.

Penni Cyr
Penni Cyr

Idaho Education Association president Penni Cyr has argued since May that a teacher’s license should not be tied to an evaluation performed locally. Cyr also said she wanted a greater emphasis on mentoring for beginning teachers and would have rather had salary and pay discussions held at the same time.

“It’s going to make it really difficult to attract teachers,” Cyr said after the meeting. “I’m concerned about the punitive nature versus helping our professionals grow and become more professional.”

As the recommendations stand, teacher evaluations and performance goals are a condition of renewing and advancing between tiers.

Rep. Lance Clow, a Twin Falls Republican and House Education Committee member, was pleased with the committee’s work.

Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls

“It’s good work and I think we’re going in the right direction,” Clow said. “The really interesting thing is the career ladder. Now that we have this in place we can start to focus on how compensation fits into things.”

The committee’s recommendations will not become official until action is taken by the State Board.

The committee will reconvene Aug. 19 to turn its attention to the other side of the equation: the career ladder and teacher pay side.

Breaking down the tiers

The basics of the tiered licensure proposal, at a glance (specific language must be approved by the State Board and implemented via the state’s rule-making process).

Residency Certificate:

  • Three-year, non-renewable certificate for teachers entering the profession.
  • Requires a recommendation from a state-approved teacher preparation program, such as a college of education.
  • Teachers must complete a performance evaluation earning “basic” or higher ratings on all 22 components of the Idaho State Evaluation Framework.
  • Teachers must complete an individualized learning plan and outline student objectives or measureable student achievement data.
  • Teacher mentoring is included in years one and two.
  • If teachers are unable to meet the requirements to advance to the professional certificate after three years, they must return to school to work on areas of deficiency.
  • Evaluations will be performed by two observers who have proved their proficiency in evaluating teachers.

Professional Certificate:

  • Five-year-renewable certificate.
  • Teachers may apply after year three in the residency program if for two out of three years, they demonstrate teacher proficiency on state performance evaluations and show proof of increased student achievement.
  • Teachers must also obtain six credit of continuing education from an approved institution.
  • On evaluations, teachers must have 16 or more elements marked as proficient or higher, including not more than six elements marked as basic, with zero unsatisfactory marks.
  • Every teacher must have a yearly individual professional learning plan, developed at the district level based on areas of growth from annual evaluations.
  • To renew this certificate, teachers must obtain six credits of continuing education. On performance evaluations, in order to renew, teachers must have 18 or more elements marked as proficient and not more than four basic elements.
  • Teachers who cannot meet the renewal requirements after obtaining a professional certificate will be issued a contingent professional certificate and be placed on an improvement plan.
  • Evaluations will be performed by two observers who have proved their proficiency in evaluating teachers.

Master Professional Certificate:

  • Five-year renewable certificate.
  • To apply, teachers must obtain at least eight years of teaching experience and another six credits of continuing education.
  • During at least three of the previous five years teachers must demonstrate at least 60 percent of students met or exceeded growth goals, and prove teacher proficiency on state performance evaluations by not having any elements scored as basic and by earning no less than six distinguished scores.
  • Evaluations will be performed by two observers who have proved their proficiency in evaluating teachers.

Out-of-state teachers

  • Three-year, nonrenewable certificate issued to teachers moving to Idaho.
  • New teachers will be given an interim residency certificate.
  • Experienced teachers will be able to apply for interim professional certificates or interim master professional certificates if they have enough experience and have obtained an equivalent license from another state or can prove they met the same requirements for licensure in Idaho.

Clark Corbin

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