As part of a presentation on educator recruitment and retention, State Department of Education official Duncan Robb told the House Education Committee Tuesday that alternative authorizations in Idaho have risen from 1.91% in 2011-12 to 4.10% in 2015-16. In raw numbers, the increase is from 361 to 757. Robb is the Chief Policy Advisor for the SDE, and his presentation also included results of an informal questionnaire of 87 Idaho districts, which showed that:
- 33 districts reported that they still had unfilled positions on the first day of school
- 22 of the 54 districts that reported all positions filled had used alternative authorizations or made “last minute” hires
- 29 districts had declared “hiring emergencies” that allowed them to circumvent some hiring procedures
Robb also outlined several potential solutions to Idaho’s teacher shortage, including:
- A “grow your own” plan that would encourage para-professionals to become certified
- Make it easier for people from “related careers” to obtain certification
- Make it easier for retired educators to reenter the profession (House Ed passed a bill Tuesday along those lines-read more from Idaho Education News).
- Support ABCTE and Teacher for America certifications via alternative authorization
Several legislators had questions or comments about the presentation. “Are we trying to hire more teachers or more highly-qualified teachers,” asked Rep. Ryan Kerby (R-New Plymouth). “These seem like stop-gap solutions that don’t really look at the big picture.”
There is a workgroup convened by the State Board of Education that is looking into potential solutions to Idaho’s difficulties in recruitment and retention, both short-term and long-term. That group includes IEA members Sue Darden and Melyssa Ferro , and it met for the first time recently.
Will Legislature Follow Through on Master Teacher Premiums?
A large piece of the puzzle in terms of recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers is compensation. As Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking reminded the Senate Education committee Monday, Master Teacher Premiums were instituted because the legislature opted not to follow the recommendation of the Governor’s Task Force for of a top rung on the Career Ladder of $60,000 for veteran teachers. Instead they established a $50,000 top rung and created Master Teacher Premiums to enable high-achieving teachers to recoup some (up to $4,000 per year) of the difference.
Based on discussions in the education committees, some legislators appear to be hesitant to commit to Master Teacher Premiums, citing the potential cost. It is essential that professional educators let legislators know the importance of Master Teacher Premiums to Idaho’s efforts to attract and retain excellent teachers so that all students have access to a great education. “Reluctance by legislators to embrace and fully commit to the Master Teacher Premiums would be taking us down a path of revisionist history,” said IEA President Penni Cyr. “The IEA’s teacher-members have been working on portfolios for a couple of years now, and this is not the time to be changing rules and expectations.”