NC panel steps forward to advance teacher licensing and compensation changes

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina state commission on Thursday agreed to move forward with efforts to change the way teachers are licensed and paid.

In a close vote, members of the Professional Educator Readiness and Standards Commission voted in favor of a summary of licensing and compensation goals to be forwarded to the State Board of Education.

The commission also wants the state board to give it the go-ahead to suggest more detailed changes and to explain what laws and policies would be affected by such a proposal, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported.

The commission has already refined a licensing and compensation plan that would ultimately require Board buy-in and General Assembly funding and legislative changes to be made.

In this draft plan, the state would move from a licensed teacher compensation system largely based on experience to one based on different types of licenses. Teachers could upgrade to more advanced licenses — and commensurate salary increases — by proving their effectiveness through student test scores, principal exams or student surveys, among other tools.

The current base salary scale for teachers ranges from $37,000 to $54,000. The authors of the tiered licensing system envision salaries ranging from $30,000 for apprentice teachers to a minimum of $56,000 for “expert teachers.” The proposal would also call for annual experience increases of 1%; annual stipends of $5,000 or $10,000 for advanced teachers who take on additional duties; and the full reinstatement of a higher salary for teachers with master’s degrees.

Proponents of the changes say they are needed to improve student learning and hire more teachers.

The North Carolina Association of Educators is among those criticizing the proposal, saying it does not reflect what teachers are doing and will actually drive them out of the profession.

The commission voted 9-7 to support the “Action Plan”, which also calls for efforts to secure funding for the new compensation model. The vote was tied until two members who previously participated in the online meeting returned to vote. The State Board of Education will then meet on November 30 and December 1.

Scott Elliott, board member and Watauga County Schools Superintendent, voted no. “I fear this is becoming a model that relies too heavily on standardized testing as a measure of effectiveness,” he told the meeting.

Another member, Superintendent of Public Schools-elect Catherine Truitt, discouraged the idea of ​​delaying voting on the plan for another month, saying she did not want the General Assembly moving forward on the issue during the 2023 session without the panel.

“It’s crucial that we get it right, and I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that we’re on track to do that,” Truitt said.

Milton S. Rodgers