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Teacher Licensure Bill Revised Again, Approved By Senate Education Committee

Katherine Joyce | NCASA Executive Director

The Senate Education/Higher Education Committee on Wednesday amended and approved a  bill making several changes to teacher licensure options in an effort to help NC school districts address an ongoing teacher shortage.

As indicated in mid-April when the committee first discussed Senate Bill 219, it would create 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.

The committee further amended the bill today so that it now also includes the following provisions:

  • Makes the new limited license available for only 3 years without an option to renew it; those teachers would need to obtain a CPL for ongoing employment.
  • Gives IPL teachers 3 years to pass their tests required for obtaining a CPL, rather than the current 2 years.
  • Extends through June 30, 2020 the IPL for all teachers whose license would otherwise expire June 30th this year due to not yet passing their exams for obtaining a CPL.

The original version of Senate Bill 219, sponsored by Sen. Tom McInnis (R-Richmond), had also provided caveats under which out-of-state applicants seeking teacher licensure in North Carolina would not have to pass NC licensure exams. Those provisions were removed from the committee’s rework of the bill, due to the State Board of Education’s approval of various changes to the licensure policy for out-of-state applicants during its April meeting. 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.

This legislation was heard in the Senate Rules Committee earlier today and is expected to be heard next on the Senate floor. The bill sponsor hopes to get the bill over to the House before the May 9 bill crossover deadline and then get that chamber to act quickly on before the end of this month so that it can provide assistance to LEAs in retaining some of the teachers they otherwise would not be able to offer ongoing employment for the coming school year.

While the bill still has limits that NCASA is continuing to try to get lawmakers to address, we appreciate efforts by Sen. McInnis to lead the work on this important issue and for working with us to make some of the improvements added in the committee today.

Katherine Joyce
kjoyce@ncasa.net
919-828-1426