Iowa teachers will have the opportunity to assume new roles as "model," "mentor," and "lead" teachers, along with additional pay, under a bill passed May 22 and headed to the Governor's desk for signature.
This piece of legislation is a long time coming. It has been a major priority of Gov. Terry Branstad for several years, and is something of a feather in the cap for departing schools chief Jason Glass, who had a big hand in shaping it. (Glass will return to head up the Eagle County, Colo., district where he previously held two different positions.)
In brief, the bill creates a fund that would help districts institute, or come up with their own alternative versions, of a career path for teachers. Funds would pay for salary supplements, release time for the teachers who take the new positions, and longer school-year contracts for them.
Through a review process at each school, districts would designate "model," "mentor" and "lead" teachers; the positions come with extra pay (up to $10,000 annually for lead teachers) and some new responsibilities, such as serving as the head of an instructional team or evaluating peers.
The positions were influenced in part by similar systems in Singapore and other international countries. But it's also worth noting that Glass, while in his first stint in Eagle County, helped implement a similar professional-development and -pay program in schools there.
Among other teacher-related actions, the bill also:
• Raises the base teacher salary to $33,500.
• Authorizes a teacher-preparation program at two teacher colleges that would include a yearlong student-teaching experience.
• Creates a council to study and make recommendations on a statewide teacher-evaluation system.