Teacher bonuses announcement delayed for another month

It will probably be another month before 653 Idaho teachers find out if they’ve earned financial bonuses designed to reward Idaho’s highest performing veteran teachers.

Although the State Board of Education hoped to announce recipients of the master educator premiums by now, staff is just now matching up evaluators with the application portfolios.

The delay was caused because the state was waiting on student performance data from the 2019-20 school year.

One of the requirements of earning a premium is that a teacher’s students meet learning targets in three of the previous five years. There were a dozen measures of students growth teachers could choose from, including standardized tests, student learning objectives, pre- and post-tests, end-of-course exams and college entrance exams. Due to the cancellation of SAT Day and standardized tests in the spring amid the coronavirus pandemic, many districts and teachers had to scramble to change the performance criteria when the school year was nearly over.

“We just at the end of last week finally got the data needed to evaluate whether or not they met the minimum criteria in statute,” said Tracie Bent, the State Board’s chief planning and policy officer said.

“We needed to wait until last year’s data was loaded and validated and because of the pandemic, that took longer than it normally would,” she added.

The Legislature created the premium program, which provides teachers who meet the criteria with a $4,000 per year. Educators who earn a premium receive it for three years, bringing the total value to $12,000.

Earlier this year, Gov. Brad Little pushed a new salary law that will phase out the master educator premium program after this year.

Even though the premiums are being phased out, educators who meet criteria this year will receive the money for all three years.

The program has faced delays and glitches with its rollout since the beginning.

Last year, many teachers said the application process was too time consuming and involved. On top of that  a number of links to applications didn’t work and there were delays in announcing the premiums.

Earlier this year, there was a delay in opening the application system. And the award announcements have been delayed again.

Despite the problems, the overwhelming majority of teachers who applied earned a premium. Last year, 94 percent of the 1,387 teachers who applied received a premium.

This year, applications were down, with just 653 teachers applying for a premium.

Clark Corbin

About Clark Corbin

Reporter Clark Corbin has covered Idaho government and education for more than a decade. He’s followed every legislative session, gavel-to-gavel, since 2011. Clark is a co-host of the Extra Credit podcast with Kevin Richert published on Fridays. You can follow him on Twitter: @clarkcorbin. He can be reached by email at [email protected]

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