Relicensing for Vermont teachers could become less onerous


MONTPELIER -- A long-standing debate between teachers and their regulators appears to be nearing resolution.

The Standards Board for Professional Educators has agreed to change its licensing requirements for practicing teachers. The deal still needs months of fine-tuning and legislative approval.

The Vermont chapter of the National Education Association has fought for years to separate teachers' licensing and evaluation processes. Their central complaint about relicensing every seven years has been the evaluative portion - the portfolio, professional reflection and learning plan they must submit each time.

Teachers say the process is onerous, and the product is not meaningful. Some state officials have resisted doing away with those components, however, because no other statewide evaluation mechanism exists.

This year, Vermont-NEA proposed moving their licensure authority to the state's Office of Professional Regulation - a move that would almost certainly separate evaluation from licensing.

That effort has been averted, at least temporarily. The union and the Standards Board for Professional Educators (VSBPE) agreed March 19 to do away with the portfolio and Individual Professional Learning Plan, or IPLP.

Practicing teachers will face relicensure every five years, down from seven. They'll have to provide proof of ongoing professional development, although specific requirements have not been set.

Vermont-NEA attorney Jeff Fannon said the organization's hope is to spend more time on collaborative professional development.

The groups hope their plan can be implemented by June 2015. For now, teachers need to follow existing protocols, they said.

Even with the portfolio and IPLP issue tentatively resolved, questions remain.

Standards board chair Steven John told the Senate Committee on Education this week that the ongoing role of the local and regional standards boards is unclear.

"We need to hear from (Agency of Education) Secretary (Rebecca) Holcombe on how this fits into the educational quality review program," John said.

Holcombe could not be reached for comment.


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