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Senate Tackles Teacher Shortage in Licensure Bill; More Changes Proposed

Elizabeth Yelverton | NCASA Legal Affairs & Policy Manager

In an attempt to address growing concerns over teacher shortages, Senate lawmakers have introduced a bill creating a new teaching license for qualified teachers who are unable to fulfill licensure exam requirements.

The original version of Senate Bill 219, sponsored by Sen. Tom McInnis (R-Richmond), provided caveats under which out-of-state applicants seeking teacher licensure in North Carolina would not have to pass NC licensure exams. Due to the State Board of Education’s approval of various changes to the licensure policy for out-of-state applicants during its monthly meeting last week, all provisions relating to out-of-state applicants were removed from S219 in a subsequent Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) that was unveiled in and discussed by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. It should be noted, however, that State Board members did not address licensure for out-of-state applicants with less than three years of teaching experience, and as a result, legislative action is still needed to encourage this particular group of applicants to fill teacher vacancies across our State.

The PCS for S219 retains the language creating a new “limited license” for qualified teachers unable to fulfill testing requirements for converting an Initial Professional License (IPL) to a Continuing Professional License (CPL) that is needed for ongoing employment. Under this provision, an in-state applicant with an IPL who is unable to pass the licensing exam required for a CPL could continue to teach if the applicant obtains an affidavit signed by both the principal and superintendent in the school district where the teacher is currently employed, and this license would not be portable for employment of the teacher by other school districts. The bill also restricts the eligibility for this limited license to school districts located in a development tier one or two area, or a development tier three area if the population is less than 100,000. NCASA is currently working with the bill sponsor to extend this eligibility to tier three areas with larger populations, in order to address teacher shortage issues in those areas as well.

This legislation is expected to face further discussion and a vote by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, April 17. Prior to that, NCASA will continue to seek changes to the bill to provide additional relief from the state’s ongoing and growing teacher shortage, and we will provide updates on this legislation as pertinent developments occur.

Elizabeth Yelverton