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TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING ARTICLE 4 TO CHAPTER 25, TITLE 59 TO ENACT THE "AMERICAN BOARD FOR THE CERTIFICATION OF TEACHER EXCELLENCE ACT" SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT A SCHOOL DISTRICT MAY HIRE INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE CERTIFIED BY THE AMERICAN BOARD FOR THE CERTIFICATION OF TEACHER EXCELLENCE (ABCTE) PURSUANT TO CERTAIN CONDITIONS.
Whereas, it is recognized that the Nation faces a shortage of certified school teachers; and
Whereas, South Carolina faces a shortage of certified teachers which, if not met, will create a crisis in our public schools; and
Whereas, the shortage of certified teachers in South Carolina is evidenced by the following:
(1) as of January 2006, there existed 548 vacant teaching positions;
(2) the total number of teachers leaving the teaching profession at the end of the 2004-05 school year was 5,574;
(3) at the start of school in the fall of 2006, due to the shortage of certified teachers, there were 748 noncertified teachers who were granted waivers to teach; and
Whereas, the State Department of Education has created the "Program for Alternative Certification for Educators" (PACE), which has succeeded in providing annually more certified teachers for South Carolina schools than from any other single source of certified teachers; and
Whereas, despite the significant efforts of the state's institutions of higher learning and the PACE program, South Carolina continues to face a significant teacher shortage; and
Whereas, there exists a pool of individuals in other professions who possess bachelor's and master's degrees in substantive areas who desire to change careers and teach in the public schools; and
Whereas, the current certification avenues available to these individuals creates certain barriers to entry to the teaching profession; and
Whereas, in recognition of barriers, the United States Department of Education, at no cost to the State, funded the American Board for the Certification of Teaching Excellence (ABCTE) to create an additional avenue to certify highly qualified teachers at the option of states and school districts; and
Whereas, South Carolina is committed to providing beginning teachers with mentoring programs as they transition into the profession and become part of the learning community, as research shows that mentor induction programs can significantly reduce teacher turnover and give those new to the education community the tools needed to be successful in the classroom; and
Whereas, mentoring is a crucial component of the certification process in the American Board's Passport to Teaching program; and
Whereas, the American Board for the Certification of Teaching Excellence has partnered with the New Teacher Center in Santa Cruz, California, to provide a leading research-based mentoring induction program to give new teachers the support they need for professional growth and development to improve student achievement; and
Whereas, the States of Florida, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Idaho, Utah, and New Hampshire have authorized school districts to hire individuals who have been certified by the ABCTE; and
Whereas, the General Assembly finds it prudent and necessary to enact legislation that will allow school districts to hire teachers who have been certified by the ABCTE and who meet the requirements of this act.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. This act may be cited as the "American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence Act".
SECTION 2. Chapter 25, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
Section 59-25-310. In addition to individuals certified for employment as school teachers pursuant to Article 3 of this chapter, a school district may hire individuals who have received a passport certificate issued by the American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) and who meet the requirements of this article in the content areas of biology, chemistry, English, mathematics, physics, or science. Additional areas of certification may be approved by the State Board of Education upon review of the longitudinal information required in Section 59-25-350.
Section 59-25-320. A person who has received a passport certificate issued by the ABCTE must not be hired by a school district in South Carolina without submitting to the State Department of Education, Office of Educator Certification at the time of application a Federal Bureau of Investigation fingerprint card and without having undergone a criminal records check by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and a national criminal records check supported by fingerprints and conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation pursuant to Section 59-25-115(B) completed within the previous eighteen months.
Section 59-25-330. A person who has received a passport certificate issued by the ABCTE, who has a minimum of a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university or an institution with a teacher education program that has been approved by the State Board of Education for certification purposes, and who has met the requirements of Section 59-25-320 is considered to have met the requirements for certification and must be issued an appropriate alternative route certificate as determined by the State Board of Education. The alternative route certificate must be valid for one year and may be renewed annually for two additional years upon the successful completion of teaching and of the hiring district's induction program.
Section 59-25-340. A person who has received a passport certificate issued by the ABCTE, possesses an alternative route certificate, and has been initially hired by a school district must be required, as a condition for professional certification, to successfully pass the South Carolina adopted pedagogy examination.
Section 59-25-350. The State Department of Education shall submit annually by March thirty-first to the State Board of Education and the General Assembly the total number of individuals employed in South Carolina with a passport certificate issued by ABCTE by district and nonprivileged information collected on these individuals through the ADEPT reporting system.
Section 59-25-360. A person who has received a passport certificate issued by the ABCTE and is hired by a school district has the same responsibilities and rights as teachers hired pursuant to Article 3 of this chapter. All laws and regulations not inconsistent with this article also apply to persons who have received a passport certificate issued by the ABCTE pursuant to this article."
SECTION 3. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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