An oft-discussed teacher contract/bonus pay plan and a new Credit by Demonstrated Mastery program will hold the attention of Sampson County Board of Education members after the Easter break, when they meet April 28, likely to vote on one and work toward implementation of the other.
Both are requirements from the state Department of Public Instruction and both, according to educational leaders, are things Sampson County Schools must act on over the course of the next few months.
Teacher contract/bonus pay
The teacher contract and bonus pay selection process has been ongoing for months, with a final proposal outlined in January and mulled by board members ever since. It will appear on the board’s consent agenda in two weeks, basically because school officials have noted that it is the law and has been on the table now since work began in late 2013.
“Dr. (Mike) Warren went over this with you in January,” superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy said in refreshing school board members about the process that had brought them to Tuesday’s meeting, “and there’s been some litigation since. There are a lot of moving parts, but right now it is the law and we must follow that law.”
Those moving parts include Gov. Pat McCrory’s recent statements indicating he will consider making changes to the law, particularly given all the upheaval, including the fact that several school systems have asked that it be repealed and at least two county school systems — Guilford and Durham — have sued because of it.
“If it’s changed or repealed, then we can modify accordingly,” Bracy told the board Tuesday, “but it’s the law and we need to move forward with it at this point.”
Signed into law by McCrory in July 2013, Senate Bill 402, specifically section 9.6, mandates that teachers who have not yet earned tenure or career status before the 2013-14 school year will not receive it, with many receiving only one-year contracts.
Some teachers, including media coordinators, counselors, speech pathologist, social workers and instructional coaches, will be eligible to receive four-year contracts through 2018-19 if they meet certain specified criteria, with the superintendent required to recommend 25 percent of those eligible for contract approval by the school board.
If the process is approved and implemented, as it is expected to be in a few weeks, the selected teachers will have until June 30 to accept or decline the offer. If a teacher chooses to accept, they have to give up tenure which, by 2018 will be completely eliminated with previously tenured teachers losing their status and all teachers being employed through renewable one, two or four-year contracts.
Introduced as yet another mandate that the system must follow, Col. Tommy Macon talked to board members during Tuesday’s work session about the Credit by Demonstrated Mastery program, one he touted as a good thing for some students.
The Credit by Demonstrated Mastery, or CDM, is a way for students to earn standard level credit for a course without having any seat time. Students will demonstrate mastery for a course by completing a multi-phase assessment, that includes testing.
“If a student can achieve mastery, why make them sit in that class,” Macon asked rhetorically, as he outlined the program for the board. “It’s a multi-faceted program and one we must do.”
All students all eligible to take the mastery test, but Macon cautioned that only a few will actually make it through the process.
Statistics bear that out. According to the assistant superintendent, across the state only 18 of those tested so far actualy passed. “This is very, very challenging, as it should be; not a lot will pass.”
But whether a student passes or fails, it will not be calculated as part of their GPA.
The CDM will be phased in beginning fall 2014, starting with End of Course subjects Math I, biology and English II. In the spring, other courses will be added, including those in Career Technical Education.
School board member Sonya Powell asked whether CDM would be open to eighth-graders, something Macon acknowledged was an option but not a mandate.
“We may opt to do that down the road,” Macon replied, “but we aren’t looking to implement at the middle school level at this point.”
Member Dewain Sinclair questioned any funding costs, but Macon quickly eased his mind saying that he didn’t anticipate any additional needed funding. “The biggest thing will be time,” he stressed.
Macon said work was currently being completed on CDM and a requirements policy would be brought back to the board at a later date for adoption.
“This is mainly for your information at this point. There is still work left to be done,” Macon said. “The first steps are always hardest, but I feel like we are up to the task.”