The North Carolina State Board of Education wants legislators to allow for a multiyear pilot teacher licensure program that would pay instructors based on performance rather than years of experience.
The board voted on Thursday to ask lawmakers to allow them to test out a program in several public school districts beginning in the 2024-25 school year, WRAL-TV reported, with the authorization to operate them for six academic years. The legislature would need to approve the funding and the exemptions for teachers to participate.
Critics of the current licensure system, which links pay to years of service, say it’s failing to retain teachers and improve student learning substantially.
“We cannot afford to lose beginning teachers,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said. “We’ve already heard that we need to fill the pipeline with more teachers than we currently have.”
Truitt hopes five to 15 school districts of varying sizes and locations can participate in the pilot, the station reported. The legislature is beginning to fashion the state government budget for the next two years.
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Under the proposed licensure plan, teachers could move to more advanced licenses — and commensurate pay increases — by proving their effectiveness through performance reviews that could be based on student test scores. The current base teacher salary schedule ranges from $37,000 to $54,000. The top of the salary ladder is at 25 years of experience.
Teachers also get supplemental increases that vary by district. A multitiered license system envision minimum salaries of $56,000 for “expert teachers.”
The board voted separately on Thursday to ask lawmakers to raise teacher pay by 10% for all teachers next year.
Adjusted for the cost of living, North Carolina had the lowest average of beginning teacher pay out of 10 Southern states and the fourth-lowest average teacher pay, according to National Education Association data compiled by the Department of Instruction.
The General Assembly approved average 2.5% teacher raises for the 2021-22 school year and average 4.2% raises in 2022-23. That doesn’t include $2,800 bonuses for most teachers during 2021-22 and funds for additional teacher pay supplements in both years, according to the legislature’s Fiscal Research Division.
Board members said higher teacher pay is not just about offering salaries to compete with district in nearby states that can hire teachers away. It’s also about providing salaries to compete with private business, Chairman Eric Davis said.