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NEWS RELEASES 2001-02 :: SEPTEMBER 17, 2001


Test scores and rankings make the headlines in education news, but for parents, the most important factor in education is the quality of their child's teacher.

In North Carolina, state education officials have made teacher quality one of their top five priorities. "We know that quality teachers are crucial to our efforts to raise standards for student performance. Even in a time of teacher shortages, it is important that North Carolina maintain high standards for teachers entering the profession and also do our best to keep the quality teachers we have," said State Superintendent Mike Ward.

This year, local school districts will hire approximately 10,000 new teachers for the 2001-02 school year. These new teachers represent approximately 12 percent of the total number of teachers in the state's 117 school systems.

This is about the same number of new teachers who were hired last year also. In 2000-01, 41 percent of the newly hired teachers were issued either initial licenses (for inexperienced teachers) or continuing licenses. Another 17 percent were issued temporary permits, pending completion of teacher testing requirements. Nineteen percent of last year's new teachers were given lateral entry.

In 2000-01, nearly 9 percent of newly hired teachers were issued emergency permits and nearly 11 percent were issued provisional licenses.

Thirty-eight percent of the new teachers hired in 2000-01 were from outside of North Carolina.

Over the past five years, the average teacher turnover rate was 12.94 percent. Most school systems reported turnover between 11 and 14 percent, although three systems - Weldon City, Hoke County and Warren County - had turnover of 20 percent or more. Most of the districts in the far western counties reported turnover of 10 percent or less.

State Board of Education Chairman Phil Kirk said that given these numbers, North Carolina needs several strategies to ensure quality teachers for every classroom. "It isn't enough to focus only on our state's teacher education programs when many of our new teachers come to us from other states. It isn't adequate to consider only new teacher requirements. We also need to focus on ways to retain quality teachers."

The State Board and Department of Public Instruction have several initiatives under way to help in these areas:

  • alternative entry licensure routes;
  • the establishment of a center for teacher recruitment and retention;
  • a three-year induction program and paid mentors for new teachers;
  • the establishment of three regional alternative licensure centers to help lateral entry teachers;
  • overall salary increases;
  • 12 percent pay increases for teachers with National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certification;
  • 10 percent pay increases for teachers with master's degrees;
  • special recognition and awards programs, such as Teacher of the Year and the Christa McAuliffe Fellows Program;
  • strengthened requirements for new teachers and continuing ones;
  • teacher scholarship loans; and
  • Project TEACH, to encourage students to consider a teaching career.

The typical North Carolina teacher is a 42-year-old white female, however the largest number of teachers are clustered around the late 40s and early 50s age range. Another similarly large number of teachers are clustered around their late 20s or early 30s.

The current teaching force is significantly less racially diverse than the students they are teaching. Thirty-eight percent of the students are racial minorities, while only 16 percent of the teachers are minorities.

The State Board of Education sets licensing standards for people who want to enter the teaching profession and for teachers to remain licensed. Most teachers have completed a four-year college teacher preparation program, although some teachers enter the profession through alternative means such as lateral entry. In those cases, the teachers receive provisional licenses and are required to complete specific educational courses and other training in order to receive a continuing license.

Statewide, only 15.7 percent of teachers hold licenses that are provisional in some way. These provisional licenses could include lateral entry, temporary permits, provisional licenses or alternative entry licenses. Slightly over 5 percent of teachers have lateral entry licenses, signifying that they are entering the teaching profession from another professional career.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.