NC panel takes step advancing teacher license, pay changes

Supporters of the changes say they're needed to improve student learning and recruit more teachers.
NC panel takes step advancing teacher license, pay changes (Photo: MGN)

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

In a close vote, members of the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission voted to back a summary of licensure and compensation goals to pass along 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 already has been refining a licensure and pay plan that ultimately would need buy-in from the board and funding and law changes from the General Assembly to be carried out.

In that draft plan, the state would switch from a pay system for licensed teachers largely based on experience to one based on different types of licenses. Teachers could move to more advanced licenses — and commensurate pay increases — by proving their effectiveness through student test scores, principal reviews or student surveys among other tools.

The current base salary teacher schedule ranges from $37,000 to $54,000. Authors of the multi-tiered license system envision salaries from $30,000 for apprentice teachers to a minimum of $56,000 for “expert teachers.” The proposal also would seek 1% annual experience raises; annual stipends of $5,000 or $10,000 for advanced teachers taking on additional duties; and the full restoration of higher pay for teachers with master’s degrees.

Supporters of the changes say they’re needed to improve student learning and recruit more teachers.

The North Carolina Association of Educators is among those critical of the proposal, saying it doesn’t reflect what teachers do and will actually lead them to quit the profession.

The commission voted 9-7 to support the “Blueprint for Action,” which also calls on efforts to secure funding for the new compensation model. The vote was tied until two members previously attending the online meeting returned to cast votes. The State Board of Education next meets on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

Scott Elliott, a commission member and superintendent of Watauga County Schools, voted no. “I am concerned about this becoming a model that relies too heavily on standardized tests as an outcome measure of effectiveness,” he said during the meeting.

Another member, elected state schools Superintendent Catherine Pruitt, discouraged the idea of delaying a vote on the blueprint by another month, saying she didn’t want the General Assembly to move ahead on the issue in the 2023 session without the panel.

“It is crucial that we get this right, and I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that we are on the right path to do so,” Truitt said.

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