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State board OKs plan to roll out master teacher pay bonuses

Just like their students, experienced teachers in Idaho looking for a bonus will have to show their work under a plan recently adopted by the Idaho State Board of Education.

Teachers with at least eight years of experience will have to submit a portfolio documenting how they meet the standards required to receive a master teacher premium. These $4,000 bonuses won’t go into effect until 2019, but the board wants to give enough time to teachers and schools district for preparation.

If approved, teachers will receive the $4,000 bonus for three years. After that, teachers will need to resubmit an updated portfolio, but theoretically it’s possible for teachers to receive a master teacher premium for the rest of their career.

Mark Jones, a Boise principal who helped draft the plan, said an independent committee will review the portfolios to determine if they meet the criteria for a bonus. Standards include mastery in leadership, professional growth and instructional methods. The board chose to use portfolios rather than tie the bonuses solely to evaluations or student achievement.

“Based on everything that’s out there, this is probably our best option,” Jones said.

Eligible teachers must not only have eight years of experience, but must also spend three consecutive years in the classroom before applying. Just how many teachers will be eligible for the new bonuses is unknown. The board won’t finalize the estimated cost of paying for the premiums until next year.

School districts that do not want to use the state method will have the option of drafting their own. However, districts will need approval from the board to ensure that teachers are being reviewed fairly across the state.

Master teacher premiums are part a five-year pay plan designed to attract and retain teachers. Idaho lawmakers approved the so-called career ladder in 2015.

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