A bill that would alter teacher licensing in North Dakota passed unanimously in the House on Friday.
House Bill 1098 would expand elementary licensure from grades 1 to 6 to grades 1 to 8. Also, it would modify the grade range for secondary licensure to include grades 5 to 12, as opposed to grades 7 to 12.
The bill was drafted at the request of the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board in response to statewide teacher shortages and to add flexibility to educator licensing to help public school districts address staffing shortages.
It passed 46-0 in the House on Friday. An emergency clause was added to the legislation on Friday to ensure it would immediately go into law after Gov. Doug Burgum signs it.
Rebecca Pitkin, executive director of the Education Standards and Practices Board, said the idea for the bill came from a survey the board conducted in the fall, which collected input from principals, superintendents, school board members and teachers around the state.
The majority of respondents agreed more flexibility in license configuration would be beneficial to their school districts.
The emergency clause has not yet been approved in the House, and the legislation still needs approval in the Senate. But Pitkin said she's hopeful it will pass and said she wants to get the word out to all superintendents as soon as possible.
"Hiring is going on now," Pitkin said. "Superintendents have been calling, saying, you know, I have this person right now, they have an elementary license, but if you change elementary licensure to go up to eighth grade, then they could teach in our middle school."
In July, the Education Standards and Practice Board declared that North Dakota teacher shortage areas include all content areas.
A number of bills have been introduced in the Legislature to address teacher shortages, including a student loan forgiveness bill for teachers and extra benefits to new teachers who take jobs in rural districts.