Zay bill to help with teacher hiring passes Senate

A bill authored by State Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington) that will provide more teacher-hiring options to school districts recently passed the Senate by a vote of 35 to 12.

Senate Bill 387 aims to address the teacher shortage in the state and to provide a pathway for teachers who struggle with licensure exams to enter the classroom if they can meet certain standards. SB 387 also allows school districts to offer supplemental pay to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and special education teachers beyond the regular salary schedule.

“My overarching goal with this bill is to open new pathways to teaching for individuals with years of highly successful work experience who could make excellent teachers and change young people’s lives,” Zay said. “A quality education for all Hoosier students is one of my top priorities as a legislator, and I believe this bill would support the teaching profession by breaking down barriers that prevent excellent candidates from entering the field.”

SB 387 allows a pathway for teaching candidates to receive their license if they can’t pass the exams, provided they demonstrate their qualifications through other factors such as a 3.0 GPA, participating in Indiana’s IMAP mentoring program and continuing to work toward passing the exam.

SB 387 also opens up who can qualify for a career specialist permit, which is an alternative teaching license for people with professional backgrounds who may consider teaching a high-school subject related to their background.

Indiana has a variety of options for professionals to become teachers. The career-specialist permit option is one of those options, but just like traditional teaching candidates, those people must pass the teaching licensure exams. SB 387 would expand the opportunity for career-specialist candidates in return for even greater work experience requirements. To qualify for this waiver, a career-specialist candidate must have five years of recent work experience in the subject they want to teach.

This bill received unanimous, bipartisan support in the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development and is also backed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick, who personally came to the committee hearing to express her support for the bill last week.

All of the changes in this bill retain local control over teacher hiring and pay decisions.

SB 387 will now move to the House of Representatives for further consideration.