IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Idaho is ending a stipend for teachers earning National Board certification and some fear the loss of that incentive will result in fewer educators completing the rigorous program, which can take up to three years to finish.

Lawmakers in the 2010 Idaho Legislature voted to discontinue a long-standing stipend of $10,000, distributed over five years, to teachers who earn the certification, starting this July, the Post Register reported.

Teachers who received certification prior to July 1 will still receive the stipend.

Students taught by educators who get certified by the National Board tend to make bigger gains on standardized tests than students taught by other teachers, according a 2008 report from the National Research Council.

Sue Hovey, who teaches the state's only National Board certification courses at the University of Idaho in Moscow, said it was "a travesty that it's unfunded."

"Idaho can't afford to lose its higher-certified teachers ... to other states which offer better incentives," she said.

Public schools chief Tom Luna included new incentives for teachers in changes signed into law this year. They include a pay-for-performance plan to reward educators who go above and beyond.

Idaho has 372 nationally certified teachers, while some other states, including those with bigger populations such as Washington and California, boast thousands of teachers with that ranking. This year, only three new Idaho teachers were certified, compared to six in 2010.

Teachers are required to hold a bachelor's degree, a state teaching certificate and three years of full-time teaching experience to enroll in the certification program.

Other states are wrangling with the issue of paying National Board Certified teaches an annual stipend.

In Oklahoma, a state senator is seeking an attorney general's opinion on whether the pay is mandatory in that state, where education officials voted to withhold funding for the bonuses this year amid public education budget cuts. That state's Board of Education also eliminated funding for a scholarship program to help defray the costs to Oklahoma teachers seeking national certification.