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Bill Making Teacher Licensure And Preparation Changes Amended And Approved By Senate

Legislation which would provide for new educator preparation programs and eliminate lateral entry licensure and replace it with a new “residency licensure” gained full approval in the Senate this week. The bill was amended on the floor addressing the provisions of the bill that denied any person without at least a 2.7 GPA into an Educator Preparation Program (EPP). The amendment grants the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission created under the bill the authority to determine how GPA would be calculated for purposes of gaining entry into an EPP. The amendment also provides that an EPP may not admit a student into a program leading to CTE licensure unless that person has met the 2.7 GPA requirement OR has at least 5 years of relevant experience. The bill was previously approved in the Senate Finance and Senate Rules Committees last week, and the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee a few weeks ago. The bill now heads to the House for consideration.

Senate Bill 599 would set up a new Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission which would be housed within the State Board of Education, however, would act independently of the Board. The Commission, which includes representation by superintendents, principals, and personnel administrators, would recommend standards for educator preparation, licensure, continuing education, and conduct to the Board. The Board would then accept or reject these recommendations. The legislation also grants the State Board the authority to recognize new education preparation programs (EPP), rather than only those found in an institution of higher education. The bill lays out the minimum standards EPPs must meet in order to be approved. The legislation also outlines an accountability system for EPPs which the State Board must use when overseeing the programs.

Perhaps the most impactful provision of the bill to local school districts is the bill’s elimination of the current lateral entry licensure program. The bill would replace lateral entry with a “residency license.” Individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree may enroll in an EPP and be employed to teach at the same time under a one-year residency license. As filed, the bill provided that there must be at least 30 hours of field experience and 150 hours of coursework prior to the residency. However, the newest version of the legislation charges the Commission with the duty to develop rules concerning pre-service training and field experiences for individuals prior to entering the classroom with a residency license. EPPs are required to provide ongoing support to the resident, and a site-based clinical mentor is required to be assigned to the resident. Residencies must last for a minimum of one year.

The bill was previously presented to the Senate Education/Higher Committee and discussed with the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Chad Barefoot (R-Wake), soliciting feedback on the legislation’s provision from the Committee and stakeholder organizations to fine-tune the bill before a vote. NCASA, in conjunction with our affiliate group the Personnel Administrators of North Carolina, expressed concerns with the legislation, primarily the negative impact that eliminating lateral entry licensure in its current form will have on school districts across the state which are already facing a severe teacher shortage in many areas, and the lack of personnel administrators on the Commission, as they were not specifically listed in the first version of the bill. Though some concerns on how this legislation will impact teacher recruitment remains, NCASA appreciates Senator Barefoot addressing some of our concerns with the bill by including the following improvements:

  • Providing a two-year rather than one-year phase-out of the lateral entry licensure program that would allow lateral entry licenses to be issued through 2018-2019 and remain in effect for the remainder of the licensure cycle once issued, and
  • the addition of two personnel administrators on the proposed new Commission.

NCASA will continue to fine tune this legislation with lawmakers as it makes its way through the House. To read more on this legislation, please find an article written by Raleigh’s News & Observer here.

Adam Pridemore