State OKs new rules for licensing teachers

Posted: February 9, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

Arkansas' Board of Education approved rules Thursday for licensing the state's kindergarten-through-12th-grade teachers.

The rules set a "career continuum" or four classifications of teacher licenses in lieu of the current standard, five-year renewable state-issued license in a subject or content area. Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, the license classifications would be broken down into early career professional educator, career professional educator, lead professional educator and master professional educator.

The state Department of Education took the rules through a public comment period late last year and returned with "substantive changes," prompting a second round of public comments. The changes are the result of a range of new laws, including Act 294, that passed during the 2017 legislative session.

Teachers can move through the classifications with additional years of experience, proven effectiveness and other criteria that have yet to be determined.

Under the classifications, the early career professional educator license would mirror those of the current standard license. When that time period is up, teachers with this license can renew or pursue a career professional educator license, which connotes that they have a "strong commitment" to the teaching profession, according to the rules.

Career professionals will have completed at least three years of teaching and have proved that they are effective, as defined by Arkansas' plan for complying with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

The department is still working on the requirements for the lead professional educator and master professional educator licenses, the rules show. Once completed, they will go through the same implementation periods.

On Thursday, the board approved the rules and an emergency set of the same rules to allow schools and school districts to plan for the new licensure requirements.

The emergency set was necessary because a legislative subcommittee that normally would weigh the new rules would not be meeting in March.

The final rules likely will be before the Rules and Regulations subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council, made up of state representatives and senators, in April.

Metro on 02/09/2018