At their monthly meeting this week, The NC State Board of Education (SBE) heard a presentation of the latest draft of the proposed North Carolina Pathways to Excellence for Teaching Professionals. This controversial new licensure and credentialing program has been developed by several subcommittees of the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission (PEPSC) over the past year. Feedback from the State Board was intended to motivate continued development and model refinement with a target for completion in the coming months.
The SBE presentation focused on policy implications rather than implementation issues and left many questions unanswered.
Numerous concerns have been raised about the plan since it was revealed, including recent articles by Forbes and NC Policy Watch and posts by NC teachers Kim Mackay (educatEDpolicy) and Justin Parmenter (Notes from the Chalkboard). These articles point out the pitfalls of abandoning a system that rewards experience, collaboration, commitment, and longevity with one solely based on merit.
Below is a brief description of each level. Due diligence requires that state leaders address all implementation questions before any moves are made to adopt this new model. It remains unclear how the proposed plan will improve the dire state of the NC teacher pipeline.
In brief, the new licensure plan has seven levels, each with a higher salary than the previous. To move up levels, specific performance or credentialing requirements must be met. Salary increases for years in service are not a component of the draft proposal. However, each level has a specific license term (typically 3-5 years) during which the teacher can complete requirements to advance to the next level.
DPI staff took pains to distinguish this proposed plan from previous NC merit pay programs. But at its core, with the focus on meeting specific performance criteria to move up levels, the proposed program is also a merit pay program.
1) Apprentice Teacher ($30K) is similar to current teaching assistants (TAs) who work under supervising teachers but includes more requirements (e.g. working toward BA/BS degree).
2) License-I (L-I) teachers must be affiliated with an Educator Preparation Program (EPP)/(teacher ed program) and are co-teacher of record with a L-IV level teacher. The L-I teacher comes with a proposed salary of $38K, a full $2,500 more than the current starting salary for beginning teachers.
3) License-II (L-II) “Teacher in Residency” is the teacher of record earning $40K/year. This seems to be the level at which teachers currently entering the profession through the traditional EPP pathway who have not yet passed credentialing exams (e.g. PRAXIS) will start.
4) License III (L-III) “Teacher in Residence Skills Advancement” educator earns $45,000/year and has met all previous requirements and passed all credentialing exams or met other performance criteria (called micro-credentials). Current starting teachers who have passed credentialing exams would start here. This salary increase for starting teachers would be a much-needed improvement over the current salary schedule but it is highly doubtful that the current NC legislature will fund the increase.
5) License IV (L-IV) “Expert Teacher” To attain License IV, and $56,000/year salary, a teacher must demonstrate effectiveness for 3 qualifying years. Effectiveness can come in the form of EVASS results or Qualitative Growth Review OR Practical Educator Evidence Review (PEER), Principal observation, License IV+ teacher observation, and student surveys.
6) License IV (L-IV ADV CE) Advanced Teacher Classroom Excellence has a proposed salary of $61,600 (10% increase over L-IV). To achieve L-IV ADV CE, for 3 of 5 years a teacher must demonstrate teaching excellence through exceeding growth on EVASS or Exceeding Expectations on the Qualitative Growth Review OR meeting the required levels on PEER, Principal Observations, L-IV+ observation, and student surveys. To remain at the level, teachers must meet additional obligations such as conducting model lessons and conducting peer observations.
7) License IV (L-IV ADV AL) Advanced Teacher Adult Leadership has a proposed salary of $73,000 (30% increase over L-IV). To achieve L-IV ADV AL, for 3 of 5 years a teacher must demonstrate teaching excellence through exceeding growth on EVASS or Exceeding Expectations on the Qualitative Growth Review OR meeting the required levels on PEER, Principal Observations, L-IV+ observation, and student surveys. In addition, the teacher must successfully complete a micro-endorsement on adult leadership. To remain at L-IV ADV AL, teachers must meet additional obligations such as providing coaching and leadership and collaborating with district and school leaders to address formative aspects of the NC Educator Evaluation Process. Revisiting the Teacher Pipeline: NC Pathways to Excellence for Teaching Professionals.
The Southern Regional Education Board proposed a nearly identical licensure plan to MS leadership in Addressing Mississippi’s Teacher Shortage: A Collaborative Action Plan. Like NC’s plan, the MS plan was framed as a way to improve the state’s teacher pipeline.
But MS leadership didn’t adopt the plan. Instead, they opted to pass the largest teacher pay raise in the state’s history.
Now that sounds like a smart way to start repairing the NC teacher pipeline. Let’s begin by paying all teachers a competitive professional salary.
It’s likely that all NC teachers who have earned National Board Certification, and probably many others already meet the criteria for L-IV, L-IV ADV CE or LV-IV ADV AL licenses. Will the NC General Assembly allocate funds to pay them according to the proposed plan?
Tune in to hear more in the coming months. In the meantime, you can share your thoughts on the proposed plan by contacting the State Board of Education members.