April 12, 2017 | Senate Committee Approves Five Bills Aimed At Teacher ​Recruitment and Retention

On Tuesday, the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee approved five pieces of legislation aimed at teacher recruitment and retention. All five bills were sponsored by Sen. Chad Barefoot (R-Franklin), Chairman of the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee as well as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations on Education Committee.  According to Sen. Barefoot, the legislation is the result of a Senate workgroup’s efforts to address teacher preparation, recruitment, and retention challenges in North Carolina.

The Committee first gave approval to
Senate Bill 517, titled the “North Carolina New Teacher Support Act”. The legislation would place “highly qualified graduates” at a higher experience level on the teacher salary schedule when meeting certain qualifications. The legislation defines “highly qualified graduates” as those meeting the following qualifications:

  • Graduated from an approved educator preparation program in North Carolina.
  • Had a grade point average of 3.75 or higher on a 4.0 scale, or its equivalent.
  • Scored a 48 on the edTPA assessment or an equivalent score on a nationally normed and valid pedagogy assessment used to determine clinical practice

Under the bill, highly qualified graduates would be paid on the highest of the following experience levels of the monthly salary schedule upon meeting the following criteria:

  • Paid For 3 Years of Experience – A highly qualified graduate employed in a low-performing school would be paid at this experience level for the first four years of employment.
  • Paid for 2 Years of Experience - A highly qualified graduate employed to teach special education, science, technology, engineering, or mathematics would be paid at this experience level for the first three years of employment.
  • Paid for 1 Year of Experience - A highly qualified graduate would be paid at this experience level for the first two years of employment.

Additionally, the bill requires the State Board of Education to reimburse an applicant’s initial licensure fee if the applicant is a graduate of an approved educator preparation program located in North Carolina, and the applicant successfully earned an initial teaching license in North Carolina. This provision applies to all applicants meeting those qualifications, not just those “highly qualified graduates” as outlined above.

The Committee additionally gave approval to
Senate Bill 598, establishing “Future Teachers of North Carolina” as a high school course offering to encourage high-achieving students with strong academic, interpersonal, and leadership skills to consider teaching as a career. The courses would include both content and filed experiences related to the teaching profession, with curricula and professional development to be offered by faculty from three constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina (UNC) System.

The Committee also approved
Senate Bill 448, authorizing LEAs to employ higher education faculty members to serve as adjunct instructors for core academic subjects without the faculty member having to obtain a teaching license. These teachers would be employed less than 20 hours a week, pass a criminal background check, and receive specified preservice training. Also approved by the Committee was Senate Bill 462, directing the UNC System to consider and evaluate the feasibility of applying for and implementing the UTEACH program as part of the curricula offered by the UNC System. UTEACH is a model program developed by the University of Texas at Austin allowing students in STEM majors to enter the teaching profession by offering a course of study that allows the students to earn their STEM degree in addition to a teaching certificate.

Lastly, the Committee approved a bill expanding the teacher assistant tuition reimbursement pilot program established under last year’s budget to include 10 additional LEAs. The pilot program as created by last year’s budget allowed 5 LEAs (Anson, Franklin, Moore, Richmond, and Scotland) to provide tuition assistance awards to part-time or full-time teacher assistant to pursue college degrees that would result in teacher licensure.  
Senate Bill 447 expands the pilot to Bertie County Schools, Duplin County Schools, Edenton-Chowan Schools, Edgecombe County Schools, Halifax County Schools, Nash-Rocky Mount Schools, Northampton County Schools, Tyrrell County Schools, Vance County Schools, and Washington County Schools.