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Changes could be coming to the way teachers are licensed and paid in North Carolina

Changes could be coming to the way teachers are licensed and paid in North Carolina. The current system for paying teachers in North Carolina is a “step” system that starts new teachers at step zero with a starting pay of $35,460. Without including any raises provided by the state, each year teachers move up a step in this system and receive a raise of about $1,000. 

Once NC teachers make it to step 15, they won’t receive another raise until they reach 25 years of teaching, and even then the raise after 25 years is only about $2,000. Eventually, teacher salaries top out at $52,680. While many school districts typically do supplement the state’s base pay, this system is still disappointing considering that last year North Carolina ranked 33rd in the nation in average teacher pay according to the National Education Association. 

Changes could be coming though; a draft teacher licensure model was presented to the State Board of Education at its most recent monthly meeting.  The proposed draft would increase the starting salary for beginning teachers to $45,000 and offers advancement opportunities that could raise teacher salaries to more than $70,000. However, there has been much concern as the factors determining the teacher’s advancement would rely on student performance and teachers taking on additional duties. 

In essence, this proposed model relies on whether teachers are considered effective, rather than moving up based on experience. Many teachers across the state have expressed concerns about whether or not this proposed model would boil down to a merit based system of pay. State Superintendent Catherine Truitt emphasized at the State Board of Education monthly meeting that this is not a merit based system, and that there are ways of demonstrating effectiveness that don’t rely on test scores. Other than test scores, teachers would be able to use a “Qualitative Growth Review” process that will be developed for measuring student growth in subjects that do not utilize test scores, such as music or art. 

The overall goal of this proposed pay system is to attract more people to the teaching profession, removing barriers for people who want to be teachers, and allowing teachers to increase their salaries without becoming administrators. This is simply a proposal of a new way to compensate educators, and will be worked on in the upcoming months, but could still take upwards of two years to go into effect.  

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