Local News

Legislators, Educators Reach Out-Of-State Teacher Licensing Compromise

Posted November 28, 2005 9:58 a.m. EST

— Legislators and state education leaders reached an agreement Monday over how to ease teacher-licensing rules and allow local schools to hire more out-of-state candidates.

  • A 26-member panel of lawmakers, teachers and administrators agreed to recommend making it easier for teachers with less than three years of experience to receive permanent licenses as long as they earn positive evaluations from supervisors.

    "It provides us with a strong policy that emphasizes continuously a standard for new teachers," State Board of Education chairman Howard Lee said in an interview. "I think it's a good compromise."

    The compromise grew out of a fight between legislators and Gov. Mike Easley's administration over teacher licensing standards.

    The Legislature this summer overwhelmingly approved changes to the licensing procedures that school districts and local administrators argued had created too much red tape and discouraged teachers to come to North Carolina. That made it difficult for local schools to fill at least 9,000 teacher vacancies annually.

    But Easley vetoed the bill that would have allowed any "highly qualified" teacher in another state to receive the same designation in North Carolina.

    Easley said it would have reduced North Carolina teacher standards to the minimum required by any state and weakened the state education board. When lawmakers agreed not to try to override his veto, the panel was formed to find a solution.

    The compromise will be presented at a state education board meeting Wednesday and likely will be voted on next month, Lee said.

    Easley spokeswoman Sherri Johnson said the governor believes the recommendation is a "workable one that will help reduce barriers to attracting teachers while preserving North Carolina's high standards for teachers."

    Rep. Doug Yongue, D-Scotland, one of the bill's primary sponsors, said Monday's compromise is going to make help local school districts with hiring and eliminate a conflict that has divided educators.

    "When we fight, kids suffer," Yongue said.

    Under the plan, middle school and high school teachers from other states who have less than three years of experience will have to meet several existing conditions to get a permanent license in North Carolina. Those include completing a third year of teaching, earning a recommendation from the local school district and any other professional development work.

    The final step for a state license has been requiring a teacher to pass a standardized test or complete a standardized evaluation program. Monday's recommendation would create a third option: a positive evaluation from a supervisor that reflects the teacher's ability to "impact student learning" and that the school district has offered to continue employing the teacher.

    The third option would give local districts more control over hiring, supporters said.

    "That's what the evaluation process is all about," said Don Martin, schools superintendent for Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. "It's making sure that they have a positive effect on the learning (process). It's going to help our recruiting efforts, out of state especially."

    Carolyn McKinney, vice president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, which supported Easley and his veto, said the compromise will depend a lot on how the state board defines the ability to "impact student learning." The board is supposed to come up with that definition by April.