In the Senate
The Senate E-12 Education Committee heard its first teacher licensure bill of the session Thursday. Authored by Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, SF298 would allow a person teaching under a temporary license for two consecutive years — who does not attain the required composite ACT Plus Writing or SAT score during that period — to receive an initial license if certain conditions are met, including having math and writing credits on their transcript and a letter validating their teaching abilities from a school administrator.
“This bill provides one approach to providing locally elected school boards flexibility in hiring and retaining high-quality teachers in every classroom in Minnesota,” MSBA lobbyist Denise Dittrich said. “We encourage the committee to look at some alternative approaches as well — solutions like treating an out-of-state teacher the same as a probationary teacher and student loan forgiveness.”
Dittrich noted that the Teacher Supply and Demand Report identifies concerns for policymakers. “Through my research I have come to believe that we have the perfect storm brewing in regards to teacher supply and demand,” she said. “There is an overall decrease in the supply of teachers. The number of districts reporting difficulty in hiring qualified teachers in hard-to-staff areas nearly doubled since the 2012 survey.”
In testimony to the committee, Thief River Falls Superintendent Laine Larson and Fairmont Area Superintendent Joseph Brown presented the challenges they are experiencing with the teacher supply in their school districts. Maggie Sullivan, Executive Director of Human Capital for Minneapolis Public Schools, testified on the lack of diversity in the teacher pool. Pillager School District teachers Dan Devine and Kami Van Hall spoke openly and passionately about the struggles they have had in passing the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE) basic skills tests. After their emotional testimony, Pillager Principal Scott Doss reiterated the need for this legislation.
After hearing from the Minnesota Association of Colleges for Teacher Education officials about the need for a long-term policy change instead of fixes for individual teachers, the committee discussion turned to the problems with the basic skills tests and other barriers to licensure in Minnesota.
The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the Senate omnibus education bill. Committee Chair Chuck Wiger promised future discussion on this topic. MSBA has three proposals that address teacher shortage and licensure issues.
In the House
The work group offered 11 process recommendations and three funding recommendations based on the premise that they should be taken as a package and that they are not viable without adequate funding for teacher development and evaluation. The groups’s recommendations include:
- Programs should continue to be developed locally and jointly agreed to by districts and teachers with a state default model in event of no agreement.
- The program should focus on the development and evaluation of teachers as a means toward improving student outcomes.
- The summative evaluation should be based on a three-year data collection cycle and include opportunities for ongoing feedback and development.
- The measures of teacher effectiveness should use data on student achievement growth, observation of teachers’ practice and a measure of student engagement.
- Professional development opportunities should be embedded in the regular working hours of the teacher (job-embedded).
- The program should include opportunities for teachers to take on professional roles — such as peer reviewer, peer observer, mentor, peer coach, instructional coach, professional learning community facilitator, and others.
- All data within the program should be considered personnel data and disclosed at teacher’s consent.
- Alternative compensation or performance pay should be locally determined and will not be required for all districts.
- According to definition of a teacher in Minnesota Statutes 122A, a teacher must have a valid Minnesota license. Other professionals should have an appropriate evaluation process according to their position.
- The Minnesota Department of Education’s responsibilities should be related to the development, support and review of the locally developed program.
- Probationary teacher statutes should be modified so they are workable in relation to evaluation.
Funding recommendations include combining the TDE and ATPPS programs into one program implemented under M.S. 122A.40 and M.S. 122A.41, with equal funding provided to all districts at the levels currently available under the Alternative Compensation Revenue (M.S. 122A.415).
The work group recommended that all districts receive a state allocation of $169 per pupil for teacher development and evaluation to be used on specific program elements. To further enhance teacher development and provide alternative compensation, the group recommends all districts have access to levy authority with an equalization of up to $91 per pupil.
Noteworthy bill intros
- On Thursday Sen. Greg Clausen introduced SF541, which would increase the general basic education formula by $233 in FY2016 and $243 in FY2017, as well as index the formula to inflation.
- Rep. Carlos Mariani introduced HF598, a bill that aligns well with MSBA legislative policy to restore limited English proficiency revenue from six years to seven years. Gov. Mark Dayton also recommended in his education budget proposal to fund English Language Learners to seven years.