State gears up for tiered licensure hearings

Beginning Tuesday, members of the State Board of Education will devote three weeks to collecting public comment on a proposed system of tiered teacher licensure.

This summer, a state board subcommittee and the board itself granted preliminary approval to plans to create two tiers of teacher certification – an initial residency tier and a professional certificate. Within that structure, a master professional certificate and a contingent certificate would be available.

Public meetings begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Pocatello, and continue Oct. 14 in Lewiston and Oct. 21 in Meridian.
The Meridian meeting was moved from Nampa to accommodate what is expected to be a large crowd, state board officials said.

The meetings are expected to look and feel different than a standard legislative hearing. Those who comment will be asked to keep their remarks brief, and state officials are hoping to facilitate a discussion and allow residents to ask questions, communications and legislative affairs officer Marilyn Whitney said.

“We believe people still have a lot of misconceptions about what it does and what it does not do,” Whitney said. “We want to address questions we know are already out there. The reason the administrative rule has this set public comment period is to inform what goes forward to the Legislature.”

Written testimony, advance questions and concerns from anybody who cannot attend the meetings may be emailed to chief planning and policy officer Tracie Bent, who will place them into the record.

The tiered licensure proposal has drawn fire from the Idaho Education Association. Additionally, state superintendent candidates Sherri Ybarra and Jana Jones have both urged caution in moving forward.

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Opponents say the system wrongly ties a teacher’s license to performance evaluations performed at the local level.

Supporters argue tiered licensure is a way to ensure high-quality teachers are placed in every classroom and that the Legislature frees up more money for teacher pay.

State board member Rod Lewis has emphasized that once teachers obtain the professional licensure it could not be revoked under tiered licensure. Teachers are expected to obtain a professional license if they have already worked in Idaho for more than three years or if they meet performance standards for growth, evaluations and other factors within their first three years.

The complete text of the proposed tiered licensure rule is available to review online.

Members of the state board are expected to vote on the proposal in November. If they sign off, it would go forward to the Legislature as a rule. In order for it to be quashed at that point, the rule would need to be rejected by both chambers of the Legislature.

A 21-day public comment period covering the proposed rule officially opened this week after legal notice was published. The comment window closes Oct. 22.

Here’s a look at schedule for the public meetings.

  • Tuesday, 7 p.m., Pocatello, Idaho State University Student Union, Salmon River Room.
  • Oct. 14, 7 p.m., Lewiston, Lewis-Clark State College, Meriwether Lewis Hall, Room 100.
  • Oct. 21, 7 p.m., Meridian, Mountain View High School, Lecture Hall.

Check back with Idaho Education News on Tuesday night for complete coverage of the first public comment meeting. 

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