115C-296. Board sets licensure requirements; reports; lateral entry and mentor programs.

(a) The State Board of Education shall have entire control of licensing all applicants for teaching positions in all public schools of North Carolina; and it shall prescribe the rules and regulations for the renewal and extension of all licenses and shall determine and fix the salary for each grade and type of license which it authorizes.

The State Board of Education shall require an applicant for an initial bachelors degree license or graduate degree license to demonstrate the applicant's academic and professional preparation by achieving a prescribed minimum score on a standard examination appropriate and adequate for that purpose. Elementary education (K-6) and special education general curriculum teachers shall also achieve a prescribed minimum score on subtests or standard examinations specific to teaching reading and mathematics. The State Board of Education shall permit an applicant to fulfill any such testing requirement before or during the applicant's second year of teaching provided the applicant took the examination at least once during the first year of teaching. The State Board of Education shall make any required standard initial licensure exam rigorous and raise the prescribed minimum score as necessary to ensure that each applicant has received high-quality academic and professional preparation to teach effectively.

(a1) The State Board shall adopt policies that establish the minimum scores for any required standard examinations and other measures necessary to assess the qualifications of professional personnel as required under subsection (a) of this section. For purposes of this subsection, the State Board shall not be subject to Article 2A of Chapter 150B of the General Statutes. At least 30 days prior to changing any policy adopted under this subsection, the State Board shall provide written notice to all North Carolina schools of education and to all local boards of education. The written notice shall include the proposed revised policy.

(a2) The State Board of Education shall establish a schedule of fees for teacher licensure and administrative changes. The fees established under this subsection shall not exceed the actual cost of providing the service. The schedule may include fees for any of the following services:

(1) Application for demographic or administrative changes to a license.

(2) Application for a duplicate license or for copies of documents in the licensure files.

(3) Application for a renewal, extension, addition, upgrade, reinstatement, and variation to a license.

(4) Initial application for a New, In-State Approved Program Graduate.

(5) Initial application for an Out-of-State license.

(6) All other applications.

An applicant must pay any nonrefundable service fees at the time an application is submitted.

(a3) The State Board of Education shall report to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by March 15 in any year that the amount of fees in the fee schedule established under subsection (a2) of this section has been modified during the previous 12 months. The report shall include the number of personnel paid from licensure receipts, any change in personnel paid from receipts, other related costs covered by the receipts, and the estimated unexpended receipts as of June 30 of the year reported.

(b) (Applicable until the 2017-2018 school year) The State Board of Education, as lead agency in coordination and cooperation with the University Board of Governors, the State Board of Community Colleges and such other public and private agencies as are necessary, shall continue to refine the several licensure requirements, as follows:

(1) Licensure standards.

a. The licensure program shall provide for initial licensure after completion of preservice training, continuing licensure after three years of teaching experience, and license renewal every five years thereafter, until the retirement of the teacher. The last license renewal received prior to retirement shall remain in effect for five years after retirement. The licensure program shall also provide for licensure based on teaching experience as follows:

1. Continuing licensure of a teacher as defined in G.S. 115C-325(6) who has (i) 30 or more years of teaching experience in North Carolina upon the date of retirement of the teacher and (ii) served as a substitute teacher at least once every three years since retirement.

2. Lifetime licensure after 50 years of teaching.

b. The State Board of Education, in consultation with the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina, shall evaluate and develop enhanced requirements for continuing licensure. The new requirements shall reflect more rigorous standards for continuing licensure and shall be aligned with high-quality professional development programs that reflect State priorities for improving student achievement. Standards for continuing licensure shall include the following:

1. For all teachers, at least eight continuing education credits with at least three credits required in a teacher's academic subject area.

2. For elementary and middle school teachers, at least three continuing education credits related to literacy. Literacy renewal credits shall include evidence-based assessment, diagnosis, and intervention strategies for students not demonstrating reading proficiency. Oral language, phonemic and phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension shall be addressed in literacy-related activities leading to license renewal for elementary school teachers.

3. For retired teachers serving as substitutes seeking a continuing license who qualify under sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision, at least 640 hours of documented substitute teaching each renewal cycle and eight hours of annual professional development approved by a local school administrative unit.

4. For all teachers employed by a local board of education, evidence of a rating of at least proficient on the most recent annual evaluation to maintain the current license status. A teacher who is unable to satisfy this requirement but has been placed on a mandatory improvement plan may be eligible to receive an initial degree license if that teacher satisfies all other licensure requirements.

c. The State Board of Education, in consultation with local boards of education and the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina, shall (i) reevaluate and enhance the requirements for renewal of teacher licenses, [and] (ii) consider modifications in the license renewal achievement and to make it a mechanism for teachers to renew continually their knowledge and professional skills, and (iii) integrate digital teaching and learning into the requirements for licensure renewal.

d. Initial applications from an applicant with an out-of-state license shall require the applicant to provide evidence of that teacher's effectiveness, when available, as measured by the evaluation system used in that applicant's state of current licensure at the time of application, including any growth measures included in that evaluation system. Applications that include the evidence of that teacher's effectiveness shall be prioritized for review over initial applications from applicants with out-of-state licenses that do not include that information. An individual who does not include evidence of that teacher's effectiveness with the initial application shall only be eligible for an initial degree license.

(2) Repealed by Session Laws 2015-241, s. 8.41(c), effective July 1, 2015.

(b) (Applicable beginning with the 2017-2018 school year - see note.) The State Board of Education, as lead agency in coordination and cooperation with the University Board of Governors, the State Board of Community Colleges and such other public and private agencies as are necessary, shall continue to refine the several licensure requirements, as follows:

(1) Licensure standards.

a. The licensure program shall provide for initial licensure after completion of preservice training, continuing licensure after three years of teaching experience, and license renewal every five years thereafter, until the retirement of the teacher. The last license renewal received prior to retirement shall remain in effect for five years after retirement. The licensure program shall also provide for licensure based on teaching experience as follows:

1. Continuing licensure of a teacher as defined in G.S. 115C-325(6) who has (i) 30 or more years of teaching experience in North Carolina upon the date of retirement of the teacher and (ii) served as a substitute teacher at least once every three years since retirement.

2. Lifetime licensure after 50 years of teaching.

b. The State Board of Education, in consultation with the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina, shall evaluate and develop enhanced requirements for continuing licensure. The new requirements shall reflect more rigorous standards for continuing licensure and shall be aligned with high-quality professional development programs that reflect State priorities for improving student achievement. Standards for continuing licensure shall include the following:

1. For all teachers, at least eight continuing education credits with at least three credits required in a teacher's academic subject area.

2. For elementary and middle school teachers, at least three continuing education credits related to literacy. Literacy renewal credits shall include evidence-based assessment, diagnosis, and intervention strategies for students not demonstrating reading proficiency. Oral language, phonemic and phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension shall be addressed in literacy-related activities leading to license renewal for elementary school teachers.

3. For retired teachers serving as substitutes seeking a continuing license who qualify under sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision, at least 640 hours of documented substitute teaching each renewal cycle and eight hours of annual professional development approved by a local school administrative unit.

4. For all teachers employed by a local board of education, evidence of a rating of at least proficient on the most recent annual evaluation to maintain the current license status. A teacher who is unable to satisfy this requirement but has been placed on a mandatory improvement plan may be eligible to receive an initial degree license if that teacher satisfies all other licensure requirements.

c. The State Board of Education, in consultation with local boards of education and the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina, shall (i) reevaluate and enhance the requirements for renewal of teacher licenses, (ii) consider modifications in the license renewal achievement and to make it a mechanism for teachers to renew continually their knowledge and professional skills, and (iii) integrate digital teaching and learning into the requirements for licensure renewal.

d. Initial applications from an applicant with an out-of-state license shall require the applicant to provide evidence of that teacher's effectiveness, when available, as measured by the evaluation system used in that applicant's state of current licensure at the time of application, including any growth measures included in that evaluation system. Applications that include the evidence of that teacher's effectiveness shall be prioritized for review over initial applications from applicants with out-of-state licenses that do not include that information. An individual who does not include evidence of that teacher's effectiveness with the initial application shall only be eligible for an initial degree license.

(2) Repealed by Session Laws 2015-241, s. 8.41(c), effective July 1, 2015.

(b1) through (c2). Repealed by Session Laws 2015-241, s. 8.41(d)-(h), effective July 1, 2015.

(d) The State Board shall adopt rules to establish the reasons and procedures for the suspension and revocation of licenses. The State Board shall revoke the license of a teacher or school administrator if the State Board receives notification from a local board or the Secretary of Health and Human Services that a teacher or school administrator has received a rating on any standard that was identified as an area of concern on the mandatory improvement plan that was below proficient or otherwise represented unsatisfactory or below standard performance under G.S. 115C-333(d) and G.S. 115C-333.1(f). In addition, the State Board may revoke or refuse to renew a teacher's license when:

(1) The Board identifies the school in which the teacher is employed as low-performing under G.S. 115C-105.37 or G.S. 143B-146.5; and

(2) The State Board shall automatically revoke the license of a teacher or school administrator without the right to a hearing upon receiving verification of the identity of the teacher or school administrator together with a certified copy of a criminal record showing that the teacher or school administrator has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to or has been finally convicted of any of the following crimes: Murder in the first or second degree, G.S. 14-17; Conspiracy or solicitation to commit murder, G.S. 14-18.1; Rape or sexual offense as defined in Article 7B of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes. Felonious assault with deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflicting serious injury, G.S. 14-32; Kidnapping, G.S. 14-39; Abduction of children, G.S. 14-41; Crime against nature, G.S. 14-177; Incest, G.S. 14-178 or G.S. 14-179; Employing or permitting minor to assist in offense against public morality and decency, G.S. 14-190.6; Dissemination to minors under the age of 16 years, G.S. 14-190.7; Dissemination to minors under the age of 13 years, G.S. 14-190.8; Displaying material harmful to minors, G.S. 14-190.14; Disseminating harmful material to minors, G.S. 14-190.15; First degree sexual exploitation of a minor, G.S. 14-190.16; Second degree sexual exploitation of a minor, G.S. 14-190.17; Third degree sexual exploitation of a minor, G.S. 14-190.17A; Taking indecent liberties with children, G.S. 14-202.1; Solicitation of child by computer to commit an unlawful sex act, G.S. 14-202.3; Taking indecent liberties with a student, G.S. 14-202.4; Prostitution, G.S. 14-204; Patronizing a prostitute who is a minor or a mentally disabled person, G.S. 14-205.2(c) or (d); Promoting prostitution of a minor or a mentally disabled person, G.S. 14-205.3(b); and child abuse under G.S. 14-318.4. The Board shall mail notice of its intent to act pursuant to this subdivision by certified mail, return receipt requested, directed to the teacher or school administrator at their last known address. The notice shall inform the teacher or school administrator that it will revoke the person's license unless the teacher or school administrator notifies the Board in writing within 10 days after receipt of the notice that the defendant identified in the criminal record is not the same person as the teacher or school administrator. If the teacher or school administrator provides this written notice to the Board, the Board shall not revoke the license unless it can establish as a fact that the defendant and the teacher or school administrator are the same person.

(3) In addition, the State Board may revoke or refuse to renew a teacher's license when:

a. The Board identifies the school in which the teacher is employed as low-performing under G.S. 115C-105.37 or G.S. 143B-146.5; and

b. The assistance team assigned to that school makes the recommendation to revoke or refuse to renew the teacher's license for one or more reasons established by the State Board in its rules for license suspension or revocation.

The State Board may issue subpoenas for the purpose of obtaining documents or the testimony of witnesses in connection with proceedings to suspend or revoke licenses. In addition, the Board shall have the authority to contract with individuals who are qualified to conduct investigations in order to obtain all information needed to assist the Board in the proper disposition of allegations of misconduct by licensed persons.

(e) The State Board of Education shall develop a mentor program to provide ongoing support for teachers entering the profession. In developing the mentor program, the State Board shall conduct a comprehensive study of the needs of new teachers and how those needs can be met through an orientation and mentor support program. For the purpose of helping local boards to support new teachers, the State Board shall develop and distribute guidelines which address optimum teaching load, extracurricular duties, student assignment, and other working condition considerations. These guidelines shall provide that initially licensed teachers not be assigned extracurricular activities unless they request the assignments in writing and that other noninstructional duties of these teachers be minimized. The State Board shall develop and coordinate a mentor teacher training program. The State Board shall develop criteria for selecting excellent, experienced, and qualified teachers to be participants in the mentor teacher training program, including requiring that mentor teachers have been rated, through formal evaluations, at least at the "accomplished" level as part of the North Carolina Teacher Evaluation System and have met expectations for student growth.

(e1) The State Board of Education shall allot funds for mentoring services to local school administrative units based on the highest number of employees in the preceding three school years who (i) are paid with State, federal, or local funds and (ii) are either teachers paid on the first or second steps of the teacher salary schedule or instructional support personnel paid on the first step of the instructional support personnel salary schedule.

Local school administrative units shall use these funds to provide mentoring support to eligible employees in accordance with a plan approved by the State Board of Education. The plan shall include information on how all mentors in the local school administrative unit will be adequately trained to provide mentoring support.

(f) The State Board of Education, after consultation with the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina, shall develop a new category of teacher licensure known as the "Masters/Advanced Competencies" license. To receive this license, an applicant shall successfully complete a masters degree program that includes rigorous academic preparation in the subject area which the applicant will teach and in the skills and knowledge expected of a master teacher or the applicant shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the State Board that the candidate has acquired the skills and knowledge expected of a master teacher.

Persons who qualify for a "G" certificate prior to September 1, 2000, shall be awarded a "Masters/Advanced Competencies" certificate without meeting additional requirements. On and after September 1, 2000, no additional "G" certificates shall be awarded. (1955, c. 1372, art. 18, s. 2; 1965, c. 584, s. 20.1; 1973, c. 236; 1975, c. 686, s. 1; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1983 (Reg. Sess., 1984), c. 1103, s. 6; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1086, s. 96; 1989, c. 752, s. 66(a); 1993, c. 166, s. 1; c. 199, s. 4; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 716, s. 7; 1997-221, ss. 4(a), (b), 5, 7(a), 8, 9, 14, 17(a), (c); 1997-325, s. 1; 1997-383, s. 1; 1998-5, s. 5; 1998-131, s. 8; 1998-167, s. 1; 1999-96, s. 8; 2000-67, s. 9.2(a); 2001-129, s. 1; 2002-126, s. 7.39; 2003-284, s. 7.20(e); 2003-408, s. 1; 2004-124, s. 7.19(a); 2005-198, ss. 1, 2; 2005-205, s. 3; 2005-419, s. 1; 2007-166, s. 1; 2007-478, s. 1; 2007-484, s. 35; 2008-107, s. 7.8; 2009-59, s. 2; 2009-305, s. 1(b); 2011-348, s. 6; 2012-77, s. 1; 2013-11, s. 1; 2013-226, ss. 3, 5(a)-(c); 2013-360, ss. 9.3(a)-(c); 2013-368, s. 22; 2013-410, s. 20(a); 2014-115, s. 49.7; 2015-181, s. 47; 2015-241, ss. 8.26(a), 8.41(b)-(h); 2016-94, ss. 8.32(d)-(f).)