Teacher Licensure and Pay Reform Pilots Could Be Coming to North Carolina Soon

A state commission is now talking about what needs to happen to develop a pilot

a stock photo of a teacher painting with young students

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Pilots of a new plan to reform how North Carolina teachers are licensed and paid could begin as soon as this coming school year, according to last week’s meeting of the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Committee (PEPSC).

Near the beginning of the meeting, State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis explained to PEPSC members how a recent motion passed by the Board relates to the plan.

“Our objective is to continue the design and development work that has been ongoing in PEPSC with a focus on our intent to launch a series of pilots in our school districts, preferably in the fall,” Davis said.

The motion, below, sent the licensure reform plan back to PEPSC so that the group could come up with recommendations on what would need to happen to create a pilot. PEPSC is to report back to the Board by March.

The Board’s attorney is also supposed to report back to the Board by January to let members know what changes lawmakers would need to make in order for PEPSC and the Board to continue this work. Legislative action would be required in order for a pilot to happen.

Slide from December 2022 Board meeting.

PEPSC’s discussion was just a preliminary look at the work ahead. PEPSC is developing work groups to tackle each aspect of the four areas the Board is asking for help with. Those areas are:

  1. Advanced Teaching and Leader Roles
  2. Student Impact Measures
  3. New Pathway Entry Points, such as Apprenticeships
  4. New Professional Learning Tools and Structures for Beginning and Experienced Teachers

Aaron Fleming, vice chair of PEPSC, went through the four areas PEPSC work groups will focus on, and the group had some preliminary discussion.

Starting with Advanced Teaching and Leaders Roles, he asked members to talk about which of the roles they would like to see piloted.

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt, a PEPSC member, said she thinks about two kinds of roles: those where a teacher is working as a teacher leader in a school building, and those where a teacher is working at the district level as a coach for the whole school system.

Truitt said it was important to clarify that these roles would not become central office positions and would ensure that teachers could still have a direct impact on students.

“The goal is to keep them in a classroom,” Truitt said.

PEPSC member Sam Houston, president and CEO of the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center, said it is important to give teachers the experience of leadership, reward them for their excellence, and still keep them in classrooms. In the current system, he said advancement usually means leaving the classroom.

“I do think (the licensure reform plan) needs to be piloted … but I don’t want anything to stop this effort from getting a chance to move forward,” he said.

One controversial aspect of the licensure reform is how teacher effectiveness would be measured under the new plan. Proving effectiveness would be necessary both for achieving more advanced teaching roles, which leads to higher pay, as well as for keeping a teaching license long term.

There has been discussion of including both the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) data as well as other, yet-to-be-determined measures as options for determining effectiveness.

Deputy State Superintendent Michael Maher, a PEPSC member, talked during the meeting about how DPI is currently working on an alternative accountability model to the current A-F school performance grade system. That system is guided primarily by end-of-grade (EOG) and end-of-course (EOC) test scores. Maher said the new accountability model under development seeks alternative measures that move away from a focus on testing.

While that accountability model reform is still underway, Maher stressed to PEPSC the importance of not relying solely on test scores to judge effectiveness.

PEPSC also talked about the different entry points prospective teachers could have under the licensure reform model, including teacher apprenticeships.

“We’ve worked a lot in the weeds on each of these items … if we were to put all of that into practice in a pilot, what would that look like?” Fleming asked PEPSC members.

Connie Locklear, director of the Indian Resource Center at the Public Schools of Robeson County, said that it was important that each district have enough staff to support candidates entering as apprentice teachers.

Fleming agreed, saying he has seen where middle and high schools sometimes struggle currently with finding appropriate teachers to act as mentors to beginning teachers. While a mentor might be available, they won’t necessarily have the content expertise the beginning teacher is seeking. A similar problem could develop in an apprenticeship scenario, he said.

Davis said PEPSC should hold on to its past work and take what it can to help develop a pilot. He said the first request to lawmakers from the State Board of Education will be authority to develop pilots.

Originally, it seemed that the model PEPSC had been developing for more than a year would go to the Board for approval, but ultimately PEPSC just sent a “blueprint” outlining broad components that a new licensure system could have.

This article first appeared on EducationNC and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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