(The Center Square) — The North Carolina state Board of Education will consider a new plan to revamp teacher licensure and pay next month after its Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission recently voted to forward recommendations.
The PEPSC voted 9-7 on Thursday to send a “Blueprint for Action” to the state board for consideration at its next meeting Nov. 30 to Dec. 1.
The plan would shift teacher pay from the current system based primarily on years of experience to one that incorporates levels of licensure and demonstrated effectiveness. The proposal increases starting teacher pay substantially to $54,000 and creates apprentice licensure options starting at $38,000.
Teachers would move through four levels of licensure based on measures of effectiveness, such as student growth on state tests, student surveys and principal reviews.
The proposal would require the state board to identify statutes and policies for changes to implement the plan, though any changes to the current law must come from the General Assembly.
The plan, however, is already facing criticism from both educators and reform advocates.
“What I’d like to see is teachers being paid well without having to jump through hoops, having to prove they’re doing a good job,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teacher Justin Parmenter told WCNC.
Parmenter alleges the current system of teacher observations and evaluations “is working pretty well,” but schools are failing to attract new recruits because of low pay.
“The problem that we have is, the pay is so low, the benefits are so poor, competition from the private sector is so intense, we just can’t get people to want to become teachers,” he said.
Bob Luebke, director of the Center for Effective Education at the John Locke Foundation, said he agrees that “we need to revamp how we pay teachers, but I don’t know if this is how we do it, for a number of reasons.”
While Luebke and other reform advocates back a shift to “a system based on job performance,” he said, “there’s still a lot of questions that are unanswered.”
The unknown cost of the changes will be a critical component for lawmakers to consider, while increasing the number of licensure levels could add pressure to a department that’s already struggling to process teacher licenses, Luebke said.
“We’ve had problems with DPI in backlogs with current licensing with teachers,” he said. “Is this only going to make that worse? Right now, that’s a big problem.”
Luebke also questioned whether the changes go far enough to tie teacher pay to results in the classroom.
“A lot of your salary is still determined by years of experience, which we’re not in favor of,” he said. “It should be determined by your job performance. There’s a way to do that that’s acceptable and people can live with.”
Ultimately, feedback from teachers and lawmakers on how the plan will impact the teaching profession will be critical to move forward, Luebke said.
“Teachers have not really weighed in yet. That’s the constituency PEPSC will have to have firmly on board,” he said. “I think they got a little ahead of their skis because they have to go back and get legislative approval for a new licensing plan.”