State Board approves new master teacher premium plan

(UPDATED Friday, 7:22 a.m., with comment from Idaho Education Association president Kari Overall.) 

POCATELLO — The State Board of Education has approved a new plan to raise pay for experienced K-12 teachers — provided they meet a list of qualifications.

The State Board voted unanimously during a meeting Thursday to adopt new guidelines and a review process for educators with at least eight years of teaching experience who want to be master teachers in Idaho.

State Board members Andrew Scoggin, left, and David Hill

The annual payout for those who qualify? $4,000 apiece.

But board members stressed that teachers will have to work hard if they want the money.

“This plan isn’t a gimme in any sense,” said State Board member Debbie Critchfield. “We are truly trying to identify master teachers.”

The proposed plan stipulates that each candidate must submit a portfolio emphasizing five areas of exemplary teaching practice, including:

  • Leadership.
  • Professional collaboration and partnership.
  • Student needs and learning environment.
  • Professional growth.
  • Content, instruction and assessment.

Submitted portfolios must include essays and evidence, or “artifacts,” demonstrating proper implementation of each area of focus.

Trained teacher volunteers will be responsible for vetting portfolios, said State Board spokesman Blake Youde.

The plan’s potential pricetag dominated Thursday’s discussion, since no one knows how many teachers will ultimately qualify.

Policymakers have looked to Ohio, which adopted a near-identical master-teacher premium plan several years ago. Most recently, 2 percent of Ohio’s qualified teaching pool earned master-teacher status under the plan.

Applying that percentage to Idaho rounds out to 374 master teachers, or a cost of roughly $1.5 million.

Currently, 18,710 teachers could qualify.

“It will ultimately come down to how many people qualify,” Youde said, “but it’s important to remember that this plan centers on the fact that the Legislature never directed the State Board to identify a percentage of teachers who would ultimately qualify.”

Idaho Education Association president Kari Overall said she’s glad the rubrics have been created so teachers know exactly what to do to get the money, but she cautioned against a cap being placed on the amounts offered in the plan.

“If an educator completes the requirements necessary, they should earn the premium, Overall said. “These premiums represent the state’s attempt to increase compensation for veteran teachers, who are among Idaho’s best, brightest and most valuable educators.”

Since 2015, the Legislature has approved annual raises for teachers under the state’s career ladder salary law, which was designed to increase teacher retention and recruitment, and improve morale.

Although lawmakers invested in salaries, many of which benefit teachers in the early portions of their careers, veteran educators have complained the program does little to help the state’s most experienced and effective teachers.

The plan will now go before the Legislature.

Check back with Idaho Education News for further developments.

Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

Devin was formerly a senior reporter and editor for Idaho Education News and now works for INL in communications.

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