JOINT LEGISLATIVE EDUCATION OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE SUMMARY

December 8, 2009

Senator Foriest, Co-Chair

Representative Yongue, Co-Chair

National Board Teacher Applications

Kris Nordstrom, Fiscal Analyst, NCGA Fiscal Research Division presented an overview of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Applications funding and expenditures. It is the goal of the State to provide opportunities and incentives for good teachers to become excellent teachers and to retain them in the teaching profession. The National Board certification is supported by two expenditures streams covering the teacher application costs (2,500 per teacher) and providing 12 percent salary increment to National Board Certified Teachers. North Carolina began paying for application costs in 1995-96 and the budgeted amount of $3.3 million has remained unchanged since 1998. Over the past few years there has been steady increase in the number of applications. There were 2,303 applicants in 2008 and the number has more than doubled for 2009 (5,885). The reason for this dramatic increase is probably a result of the change next year requiring the application fee to be a loan rather than the State paying the fee. The projected funding for this program for the 2009 Budget will require an additional $11.4 million to cover the increased cost of the application fees.  North Carolina has the most Board Certified Teachers in the nation totaling 14,186 and the total cost to cover applications and salary increments this year amounted to $68 million. The excess cost of the program is usually covered by reversions, but due to the recent budget shortfall the amount of reversions has declined dramatically.

Philip Price, Associate Superintendent/Chief Financial Officer, NC Department of Public Instruction, addressed the changes in the legislation noting in the final budget the application fees will be paid by the applicant through a loan program beginning in 2010-2011.  The loans are repayable over a three-year period and will be capped at $3.3 million. Committee members questioned if there would be interest charged on these loans. Since the SEA Administration sets the rules, these would likely be interest bearing loans with the interest going to the SEA for administrative costs (allowed for in the law).  Members were also interested in the results of research looking at the effectiveness of this program, and funding challenges. They agreed further discussion of this issue would be necessary before the next legislative session.

UNC Teacher Data System

Dr. Alisa Chapman, Associate Vice President for Academic Planning and University School Programs, UNC General Administration and Dr. Gary Henry, Professor and Director of the Carolina Institute for Public Policy, UNC-CH presented an overview of the analysis of the 2009 Teacher Preparation Programs in the North Carolina University system. The overall priority of this research is to prepare more and better teachers and school leaders for North Carolina public schools. There were three strategies to address their goal: recruitment, preparation and new teacher and school leader support. The research addressed the quality of preparation by the use of three models: Entry Model, Persistence Model and Impact Model. The discussion today focused on the Impact Model. Connecting UNC Teacher Preparation Programs to student achievement was the approach used in this study. Statistics show that in 1990 NC led the nation in advances in student achievement, but by 2007 only one-half of 3rd thru 8th graders scored proficient in both reading and mathematics and far fewer of the poor students (one-third) passed, about two-thirds of the high school students passed their End-of-Course exams and only 70 percent of high school students graduated in four years. Increasing student achievement requires improving the quality of the teacher workforce and the UNC teacher preparation programs must be a part of the solution. The research team consisted of staff from UNCGA, UNC Chapel Hill and ECU. UNC institutions prepare approximately one-third of the 86,434 classroom teachers teaching in NC public schools in 2007-08. A chart showing the breakdown of teachers who were UNC undergraduate prepared (27,386), had a UNC graduate degree (2,351), were Lateral Entry (12,164), or out-of-state undergrad prepared (20,250). Another chart indicated the number of undergraduate teachers from each of the universities who were represented in the 27,386 number. An overview of the data used and the control variables were also presented. Some of the preliminary findings indicated that students do worse when instruction is delivered by out-of-field teachers and first year teachers. Student gains are slightly more when they attend classes with high ability classmates, students do neither better nor worse when they attended classes with classmates of mixed abilities and teachers with Masters degrees had no positive effect on high school student achievement. They looked at which programs in the universities produce teachers who better prepare students for success in certain courses. For example NC State prepares teachers in high school science. The students taught by science teacher who were prepared by NC State did better academically than other students taught by teachers from other science preparation programs.  The next steps will include the use of this research to drive teacher preparation program improvements, identify promising practices at the different institutions and assess the impacts of different courses and preparation practices. Staff will also assess the impacts of principals prepared by the UNC Masters in School Administration programs on achievement and will compare the effectiveness of the UNC teacher preparation programs with other routes of preparation (i.e. lateral entry). Members asked if any of the variables included identification of the professors teaching at the university level, comparisons results from other states, comparisons or impacts of volunteers and teacher assistants. A report regarding the impact of lateral entry teachers will be available for review by January or February.

Teacher Vacancies

Alexis Schauss, Assistant Director, School Business Administration, NC Department of Public Instruction, since 1999, LEAs have annually reported the number of vacant certified positions they have on October 20.  As of October, 2009, 559 teacher vacancies were reported statewide. This represents a 49 percent (536) decrease from the number reported in 2007. The report contained information by LEA, Region, License area and license area by Region. Wake County reported 15 vacancies during this time period, while Charlotte had 109 vacancies. There were no questions and no further discussion was necessary.

The Practice of School Social Work

Nadine Ejire, Assistant Section Chief, Licensure Section, NC Department of Public Instruction and Teresa Smith, Consultant, K-12 Student Support Services, NC Department of Public Instruction, presented an overview of the social worker’s licensure requirements, and the NC Professional School Social Work Standards. In order for an individual to obtain a Provisional License, the following is required: must be employed with a NC school system, must have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, or doctoral degree in social work from a regionally accredited Institution of Higher Education (IHE) in Social Work, must earn a minimum of six semester hours each school year until all requirements have been completed and upon completion of all requirements, an IHE or Regional Alternative Licensing Center will submit a recommendation for a clear license (Standard Professional II License). A brief outline of the hiring practices was also presented. Staff shared concerns with committee members regarding the Social Worker-to Student Ratio of 1:1,719. The School Social Work Association of America recommends one master’s degree level school social workers for every 400 students, while NCLB recommends one master’s level school social worker for 800 students.  Based on these two recommendations, a range between 400-800 students was used to review the 2009-2010 LEA school social worker ratios. The results indicate that 14 out of 115 NC school districts had a school social worker to student ratio between 400 and 800. In response to a question from the Committee, staff reviewed the duties and responsibilities of the school social worker. New Hanover was the only urban school systems listed in the chart with a desirable social worker to student ratio. The other 13 LEAs had student ADMs of 12,000 (Chapel Hill/Carboro) or less.  In these challenging economic times, social workers are continuing to meet the both physical and psychological needs of their students. A request was made for the Committee to review the ratio legislation during the next session.

School Board Member Training

Leanne Winner, Director, Governmental Relations, NC School Boards Association presented an overview of the history of the NC School Boards Association from its inception in 1937 through the current year. Existing law requires school board members to receive 12 hours annually of training. During the 2009 Session of the General Assembly, legislation was passed requiring board members to receive 2 hours of ethics education within 12 months of election/appointment and reelection/reappointment. The ethics training may count towards completion of the annual 12 hours of general board training. Forty-nine states have school boards, Hawaii has only a State Board of Education since it only has one school district. Twenty states have mandated school board training and 13 have enforcement provisions. There is an issue of compliance on the part of school board members regarding training. In 2008, 111 school board members did not receive any training. The percentage of members who have received training in 2008-2009 has increased to 72 percent up from the previous year’s 61 percent. NCSBA provides training at conferences, board meetings and recently by webinars. House Bill 348 introduced during the last session addresses this issue of noncompliance. The legislation initially required a $100 fine per hour of missed training. The House balked at the high cost and reduced it to $50 per hour, passed the bill and sent it to the Senate. The Senate heard the bill but could not agree on the fine. Senator Hartsell did suggested removal of a board member who fails to comply with the 12 hours of annual training, but the bill did not get out the Senate education committee. It is eligible in short session. The NCSBA association wants to either see some sanctions (fines or removal) placed in the law for those who do not comply or they want the statute requiring 12 hours repealed, since they have no way to enforce it.  Committee members spoke in support of sanctions for those board members not in compliance although there was some opposition to the removal of a school board member who had been voted into office by the citizens of the community. School Board members are trained in various areas: personnel, disciplinary hearings, financial matters, legislative issues, and legal issues. Members agreed to bring this item back for further discussion.

Wendell Hall, President, NC School Boards Association and Member, Hertford County Board of Education spoke on behalf of the organization and provided some examples of his experiences as a Board member and the absolute need for training. The complexity of the decisions required to be a board member demands training. There are so many more education requirements and knowledge beyond simple math and reading curriculum it is more critical than ever to participate in the 12 hours of training.

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