National Council of Teachers of English Logo
Reports from Policy Analysts

Teachers Climbing the Ladder May Need a Boost

Submitted On: Friday, September 8, 2017

Analyst: Dyer, Darlene/Wood River High School

Now that the Idaho Career Ladder has been buffed out with increases in teacher pay, Idaho’s new plan to complement it and reward experienced teachers will go before the legislature with blessings from the Idaho State Board of Education. While it is an opportunity for teachers to earn an extra $4,000 per year via a Master Teacher Premium, it may not be as rosy a path as would appear.  Just like rungs on the ladder, there are hurdles to reaching that premium payout.

In 2015 the legislature created a master teacher premium to recognize master teachers with a $4,000 annual premium dispersed over a minimum of three years, which could boost a teacher’s normal salary by $12,000.  But the Idaho SBOE reminds teachers that obtaining the annual $4,000 will require their hard work.  Portfolios submitted in June of 2019 emphasize areas of exemplary practice:


  • Leadership

  • Professional collaboration and partnership

  • Student needs and learning environment

  • Professional growth

  • Content, instruction and assessment

Some teachers will find the procedure daunting.  To achieve the distinction of master teacher, each applicant must submit evidence and artifacts as well as a narrative for a number of characteristics under each of the five standards (above), totalling 32 in all.  The 26 page-packet of standards and rubrics resembles “the bricks of paper known as closing documents when purchasing a home by the time they are completed,” states one Idaho special education teacher.  Other teachers feel all the stress and work involved in the portfolio for this premium is not worth an extra $4,000 annually, especially when they can hold other summer jobs that provide at least as much added income, if not more.

In addition, of the over 18,000 teachers in Idaho there is concern that the state will not have enough funds to make the payout.  Since they won’t begin until 2019-20, several Republican legislators have asked just how much these premiums will actually cost.   In his recent gubernatorial campaign, Lieutenant Governor Brad Little is concerned that the premiums alone will be enough to keep experienced teachers in the work force.  

When policymakers estimated the costs, they looked at Ohio, which legislated a similar plan years ago.  Because only 2 percent of Ohio’s pool of teachers opted for the master-teacher designation, the Idaho SBOE concluded earlier this summer that only 374 teachers would likely qualify at a cost of $1.5 million.  As many teachers were up in arms about a potential cap on the number of those participating, the SBOE immediately reiterated that there definitely would be no limit on the number of teachers who applied.


Bodkin, Devin.  “State Board Approves New Master Teacher Premium Plan.”  10 August 2017.

Cavener, Levi B. “There are only 374 Great Teachers.”  Times-News.  27 Aug. 2017, B-2.

Corbin, Clark.  “State Board: No Limit on Master Teacher Premiums.”  25 Aug. 2017.

“Master Teacher Premium: Frequently Asked Questions.”  Idaho Education Association.

Richert, Kevin.  “Little: We Have an Obligation to Explain How Important Education is Today.”  07 Sept. 2017.

Academic Level




Document and Site Resources

Share This On:

Page Tools:

Join NCTE Today


Copyright © 1998-2017 National Council of Teachers of English. All rights reserved in all media.

1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, Illinois 61801-1096 Phone: 217-328-3870 or 877-369-6283

Looking for information? Browse our FAQs, tour our sitemap and store sitemap, or contact NCTE

Read our Privacy Policy NEW! Statement and Links Policy. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use

Visit us on:
Facebook Twitter Linked In Pinterest Instagram