Panel moves closer to tiered licensure

An advisory committee moved closer Monday to recommending a new system of tiered teacher licenses.

Luna April 14 Tiered Licensure
Schools chief Tom Luna, left, and Rep. Hy Kloc, D-Boise, participate in Monday’s Tiered Licensure Technical Advisory Committee meeting at the Statehouse.

The licensure issue is among 20  recommendations made last summer by Gov. Butch Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education.  The 2014 Legislature did not address tiered licensure, leaving the work to the committee.

Tiered licensure also relates to another recommendation: scrapping Idaho’s teacher “salary grid” and launching a career ladder program. The career ladder could raise teacher salaries to $40,000, $50,000 or $60,000 — depending on a teacher’s tier, or certification level.

The Tiered Licensure Technical Advisory Committee developed recommendations for the second tier – a five-year renewable license that teachers would need to obtain within six years of earning their initial license.

The committee unanimously approved a requirement, based on the Danielson Group Framework for Teaching, a set of teacher yardsticks. Teachers would need to earn scores of “proficient” or better on all 22 categories of the Danielson framework for two consecutive years.

The committee also discussed other yardsticks, such as demonstrated student achievement, standardized test scores, individual professional learning plans and portfolio development.

Committee members said their goal is to improve the quality of education by ensuring the most effective teachers are in classrooms.

“Once fully implemented, we can expect the best and brightest will want to teach in Idaho because of compensation levels (associated with the career ladder),” said state superintendent Tom Luna, the committee’s chairman.

During the daylong meeting, the committee wrestled with a couple of unsettled issues — such as structuring the tiers in a way that ensures teacher excellence, while not creating too high a barrier to new teachers just learning the trade and gaining experience.

Members also debated what would happen if a district appeals a teacher’s evaluation scores or if a teacher fails to advance to the next tier within a certain timeframe.

The committee is tentatively scheduled to meet again May 21, and again in June.

On April 30, members will issue recommendations regarding the initial licensure tier to the State Board of Education’s Education Improvement Committees.

Final recommendations are expected to go to the State Board by August to allow rules to be developed in time for 2015 legislative session.

“We’re talking about weeks, rather than having many months (to complete our recommendations),” Luna said.

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