RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina Association of Educators announced this week the group is opposing a proposal that would make major changes to how teachers are licensed and paid, saying it’s based on “obscure benchmarks.”

As CBS 17 has previously reported, state education officials are discussing a plan that could lead to higher pay for teachers but would eliminate the current pay structure, which is based on seniority.

While the proposal could be revised further before going to the state Board of Education later this year, beginning teachers would make $45,000, which is higher than the current starting rate of $37,000.

Additionally, pay could exceed $70,000, which is also higher than the current state salary schedule, which peaks at $54,000.

The NCAE said it would “create an enigmatic evaluation method for teachers and threatens to withhold raises or revoke a teacher’s license if they fail to meet these obscure benchmarks,” in a statement the group released Thursday.

The plan aims to reward the most effective teachers, tying their raises to measures like test scores, assessments by their colleagues and students — and for taking on additional responsibilities.

“Higher starting pay sounds good. But, I think ultimately teachers want to be treated fairly and treated as professionals and not held to account for things that are beyond their control,” said Justin Parmenter, a 7th grade English teacher in Charlotte. “Nothing on this scale has ever been attempted before. And, I think that also raises questions about timing because we’re in the midst of the worst staffing crisis in most of our memories.”

The Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission, which advises the State Board of Education, could make a recommendation to that body later this year.

“Tying compensation to licensure is certainly a scary thing,” said Julie Pittman, a former teacher who is now an advisor to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt (R). “But, we’ve also heard from other teachers how incredible this opportunity could be, particularly those who come in from an alternative pathway who like the understanding of having higher pay early in their career.”

Pittman said the proposal is likely to undergo further revisions before going to the state board. She also said it’s possible the General Assembly may only adopt some parts of it.

“Certainly, teachers need to be making more than $40,000 a year to start with,” she said. “We absolutely want to be able to impact the future generations of college graduates who want opportunities for career advancement and career achievement.”

Parmenter questioned whether the legislature would be willing to fund the proposal, adding he’s been frustrated by emails and other public documents he’s obtained about how the process has unfolded.

“I think it’s been a disaster,” he said. “What you want to do is from the very beginning be very transparent and engage all of the stakeholders in a genuine and meaningful way. And, that’s the opposite of the way this has been handled.”

Terry Stoops, director of the Center for Effective Education at the conservative John Locke Foundation, said the proposal could lead to retaining more effective teachers and improve outcomes for students.

“I think once teachers truly understand what this plan represents and the fact that the potential for them to make much more than they do now, that support would be widespread,” he said. “The devil is going to be in the details. And, I think the implementation is going to be the absolute key moment. No plan is ever guaranteed to work.”