Educators set standards for master educator premiums

In an op-ed published earlier this week, Levi Cavener, a teacher from Caldwell erroneously asserts that the Idaho State Board of Education “made a calculated decision” to make the application process for Idaho’s Master Educator Premium “so onerous” that most teachers he knows aren’t submitting portfolios.

Matt Freeman

First, it is worth noting that to date 920 Idaho teachers have taken the time to submit portfolios for consideration, which is slightly above the target for the percentage of teachers expected to apply.  Yes, compiling the necessary information does take time, and that will be evaluated after this first round of portfolios are reviewed.  However, legislators made it clear they expected a high bar be set for the premium and that it be awarded to teachers not just based on years in the classroom but on “qualifications showing demonstrated mastery of instructional techniques and professional practice through multiple measures,” as required in  statute.

To qualify for the Premium, a teacher must have a minimum of eight years teaching experience (the three years immediately preceding the award must be continuous). Additionally, for three of the previous five years of instruction, the teacher must show:

  • mastery of instructional techniques and professional practice through artifacts demonstrating effective teaching and successful completion of an annual individualized professional learning plan; and
  • majority of students meeting measurable student achievement criteria.

In addition to these minimum qualifications for a master educator designation, the process/plan for teachers to show evidence of mastery, if developed at the district level, must be developed by a committee of teachers, administrators and stakeholders and be approved by the Board. District plans may be set up in a way that recognizes groups of teachers based on measurable student achievement goals aligned with school district approved continuous improvement plans. These groups may be school-wide or may be smaller groups, such as grade level or subject matter groups. If the school district process allows premiums to be based on a group, each teacher in a group must meet all the requirements to be eligible to receive the funds. If a school district does not develop its own plan, the eligible teachers in the school district may apply to the State Board of Education based on the state plan.

A Master Educator Premium Committee was convened to provide recommendations to the State Board on the state level plan for teachers to show evidence of mastery. The committee consisted of teachers, administrators and stakeholders as prescribed in statute. Lists of the committee and subcommittee members are posted on the State Board of Education website.

The committee met from June through December of 2015 to develop a plan and criteria for identifying a Master Educator.  The committee recommended that evidence of mastery be demonstrated through the submittal of a portfolio, which would consist of a collection of artifacts and evidence of exemplary teaching practices within the following characteristics:

  • Leadership
  • Professional Collaboration and Partnerships
  • Students and Learning Environment
  • Content, Instruction and Assessment
  • Professional Growth

The State Board of Education adopted the committee’s recommendations with no changes.

Mr. Cavener is entitled to his own opinion about the rigor of the standards required for the Master Educator Premium, but I believe it is important that he and readers know the facts about why and how the standards were developed in the first place.

Written by Matt Freeman, the executive director of the State Board of Education. 

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