Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Teacher Quality Law Update

Teacher Quality Law of 2007

Taking control of our own profession!

The 2007 session of the Iowa Legislature will go down in the record books as the turning point for public education in Iowa. Not only did lawmakers approve a historic pay raise for K-12 teachers and area education agency professionals, it also gave educators a strong voice in determining their own professional development needs and unprecedented control over professional issues.

But it didn’t just happen. The landmark investment in Iowa’s educators is the result of a multi-year ISEA effort to build a groundswell of public support for paying teachers a competitive wage and and our work to elect candidates who would honor those wishes.

In this informational piece you’ll find basic information about the provisions in the law as well as answers to some common questions. For the latest updates, be sure to visit our blog for further details.

In a nutshell . . . .

SF 277 made a number of significant changes to the Teacher Quality Law which was originally approved by the 2001 Iowa Legislature. Specifically, it:

• Increases the minimum salaries by $1,000: beginning teacher salary to $26,500; career teachers (third year) to $27,500; and all other career teachers to $28,500.

• Expands the pay raises approved by the 2006 Legislature resulting in an average cumulative increase of $5,400 by the 2008-09 school year.

• Makes area education agency professionals and school nurses who hold a teaching license or statement of professional recognition from the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners eligible to receive the salary increases.

• Reinstates the requirement that school districts employ at least one teacher librarian, guidance counselor, and school nurse. School districts can request a two-year waiver but they will be required to fill these positions after this period. School districts also must work toward a goal of having one guidance counselor for every 350 students and one school nurse for every 750 students.

• Calls for the creation of local teacher quality committees, made up of an equal number of teachers and administrators, to provide input into the use and distribution of professional development funds appropriated by the legislation, monitor the evaluation process, and recommend the use of the market factor incentives.

• Provides funding for quality professional development opportunities determined at the local level instead of mandating additional days.

• Improves the current accountability system by ensuring that teacher evaluations are conducted in a fair and consistent manner that is focused on improvement and eliminates unnecessary paperwork.

• Expands the use of "market factor pay" to include a wide variety of incentives to recruit teachers in shortage areas.

• Ensures that teachers who register for National Board Certification by December 31, 2007, will be eligible for the registration reimbursement and a $2,500 stipend each year for ten years if they successfully earn this prestigious distinction.

• Calls for the development of an administrator improvement and accountability system similar to the one already put in place for teachers.

• Appropriates a limited amount of funding to allow experimentation with alternative compensation systems developed in collaboration with local associations.