House Bill 624 — Master Educator Premiums

Lindsay Atkinson 2020 House bill ratings Leave a Comment

Bill description: HB 624 would sunset Idaho’s Master Educator Premium program.

Rating: +1

Does it increase government spending (for objectionable purposes) or debt? Conversely, does it decrease government spending or debt? 

HB 624 would place a sunset date on the state’s Master Educator Premium program. This program currently gives $4,000 a year of state money to teachers and others defined as “master educators.” According to the Idaho State Board of Education, master educators are “experienced, exemplary educators that are able to show evidence of effective teaching and professional practice.” Educators obtain this status by fulfilling all of the following:

  • Being employed as either an instructional staffer or a pupil service staffer within an Idaho school district
  • Having 8 years of educator experience, with 3 of those years in Idaho
  • Demonstrating mastery of instructional technique
  • Providing evidence of effective teaching
  • Successfully completing an annual individualized professional learning plan
  • And having a majority of their students meet measurable student achievement

It’s clear from this list of requirements that this system of proving mastery is flawed and leaves some really great educators out. For instance:

  • An instructor who has been an excellent educator in another state for decades would not be considered a master educator until they have been in Idaho at least three years
  • A newly certified teacher who is an excellent educator would not be considered a master educator simply because eight years have not passed since they began teaching
  • And an excellent teacher, whose students have made great progress, can be left out simply because that person’s students can’t pass a certain test or meet whatever “measurable student achievement” examination is imposed on them

HB 624 would sunset this flawed program through a set schedule. The state would stop accepting new applications for the premium award after 2020; it would stop awarding new premiums in 2021; and the program itself would sunset in 2024.

(+1)

Analyst’s Note: HB 624 is a trailer bill for HB 523, which would add a new rung on Idaho’s career ladder for educators. The ladder is a system that determines how much money the state government gives a local school district for each educator it employs, based on that educator’s work experience and education. We rate bills as independent units, so this rating passes no judgement on the replacement of this premium with a new rung, as proposed in HB 523; but it should be noted that is the intention of this bill.

It should also be noted that there are several flaws with Idaho’s career ladder system. For instance, the system values years of service and education level over teacher quality. The career ladder also creates a system whereby rural teachers are often paid less than urban ones, because rural districts are more likely to depend on state salary appropriation alone rather than combining it with local property tax dollars. To read more about the flaws of the career ladder system, please read our report, Broken Ladder.