Idaho Education Board endorses tiered teacher pay

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The state Board of Education has endorsed legislation that would set Idaho teachers' pay based on performance standards and experience.

Board member Richard Westerberg says the state needs to pay teachers more, but also allow districts to reward their best teachers. The plan would replace Idaho's current teacher pay grid with a career ladder.

According to the Spokesman-Review ( ), beginning teachers would see salaries increase from about $31,000 a year to about $40,000 a year over the next five years, and top-level teachers would see their base salaries rise from $47,000 to $58,000.

Under the plan, teachers would only get raises if they meet proficiency standards in teacher evaluations and if a majority of their students meet achievement targets.

"The career ladder represents a major step forward in how Idaho pays teachers," said board President Emma Atchley. "Idaho public school salaries would become more competitive with other states and the private sector. We believe this plan will be crucial in attracting and retaining great teachers and will significantly improve the quality of education for our students."

Westerberg said the plan was robust, adding that the need for higher teacher salaries is immediate. He is also the chairman of the governor's education improvement task force, which recommended implementing a career ladder.

The career ladder must now be approved by the Idaho Legislature and signed into law by the governor before it can go into effect.

Penni Cyr, president of the Idaho Education Association, said her group has major concerns with the new plan.

"First of all, it's a really flawed process," she said, adding that she wasn't invited to work on the career ladder legislation. "I think, too, that we're going to continue our mass exodus of teachers from Idaho. Basically what we're going to get is an inexperienced pool of teachers who, once they reach a point, they're going to leave Idaho to go to other places that don't base their pay on how their students perform or on their local evaluations."

The new career ladder is estimated to cost $23.7 million the first year and $193 million over five years.

"The impetus is, let's get more money into teacher salaries ... and at the same time, let's ensure that we have teacher quality," said board spokesman Marilyn Whitney.

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