National Board Certification - Is It for You?
As education issues take front and center in
both politics and the press, the microscope focusing on teacher quality
and qualification has perhaps never been more scrutinizing. The upside
is that professional development is at last wielding more influence as
legislators, administrators, teachers, and the public look for ways to
improve and certify teacher quality.
National Board Certification is one route that
states are increasingly turning to in order to reinforce and promote rigorous
standards in the teaching profession. Thirty states now officially offer
assistance to teachers who want to pursue national certification, and
many offer monetary rewards to those who earn the prestigious credential.
What is National Board
National Board Certification (NBC) is a voluntary professional development
process by which accomplished teachers are recognized for meeting high
and rigorous professional standards as developed and assessed by the National
Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Emerging from the 1986
Carnegie Corporation's Report A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st
Century, the NBPTS was organized in 1987 and currently offers national
certification in more than 20 certificate areas. National Board certification
differs from state licensing in that it is not required to teach by any
district, is uniform across the country while state licensing requirements
vary, and the standards were developed through a process of teacher input
that is different from that used in state licensing(1).
Who seeks National Board Certification?
Viewed by some as the ultimate professional development activity, many
teachers seek certification to demonstrate their mastery of the standards
developed by the NBPTS under the leadership of its 63-member board of
The awarding of National Board Certification recognizes
a teacher's mastery of knowledge, skills, accomplishments, and commitment
to the five core beliefs of the board:
- Teachers are committed to students and
- Teachers know the subjects they teach and
how to teach those subjects to students.
- Teachers are responsible for managing and
monitoring student learning.
- Teachers think systemically about their
practice and learn from experience.
- Teachers are members of learning communities.
With these beliefs central to the work of the
board, committees are appointed to develop standards for areas of certification.
All standards are publicly reviewed before being adopted.
The number of teachers
earning National Board Certification has increased as teacher education
institutions, school divisions, teacher unions and Nationally Board Certified
teachers have spread knowledge about NBC across the United States. In
2000, 4,727 teachers earned certification, up from 86 teachers in 1999,
the first year certification was available. Of the approximately 3.5 million
non-supervisory professional educational staff currently employed in the
U.S., approximately 9,500 now hold National Board Certification. Statistics
show increasing numbers of professional educators are learning about and
choosing to seek National Board Certification.
How does a teacher seek
National Board Certification?
Teachers wishing to seek National Board Certification must:
1. Have earned a baccalaureate degree.
2. Have completed three years of teaching.
3. Hold a valid teaching license or its equivalent for school systems
not requiring licensure to teach in early childhood,
elementary, middle, or secondary levels.
Fees and Certification Areas
If these eligibility requirements are met, a prospective candidate must
submit an application and at least $300 of the current $2,300 fee. While
the process is costly, both in terms of time and money, many states and
even local systems offer financial support to help defray the costs. Additional
incentives can include pay raises of up to 10 percent in some states.
Contact your state department
of education to research monies available to teachers seeking National
As part of the application process, teachers
must carefully select a certificate area from those currently available.
Visiting the official Board Web site will
provide interested teachers with detailed information about the standards
and requirements in all certificate areas.
The first part of the assessment involves four to six portfolio exercises.
These exercises require samples of student work, video documentation,
and written analyses by the candidate of these artifacts. An additional
requirement involves evidence of the teacher's work with colleagues, the
community, and students' families. The portfolio takes approximately five
months to compile.
The second portion of the assessment requires
a candidate to report during the summer to an assessment center to complete
four 90 minute written assessments. The Assessment Center Exercises require
candidates to demonstrate their pedagogical content and knowledge.
Who assesses the Portfolio and Assessment
Portfolio and assessment center exercises are scored by teachers who have
undergone intensive training by the NBPTS and have demonstrated their
understanding of the standards, the directions to candidates, and the
scoring guides. Included with the detailed instructions about the two-fold
assessment components to candidates are explanations, or rubrics, about
how the portfolio and assessment center exercises will be scored.
Should I pursue National Board Certification?
Professional educators across the country are asking themselves this question.
Undoubtedly, NBC provides teachers with definitive standards of what is
considered "the best" in teaching practices in respective fields, and
provides a means for teachers to demonstrate what so many professional
educators do day in and day out. The process requires self-reflection,
crucial to improving one's craft. Ultimately, any interested teacher should
investigate the process thoroughly. The ERIC Clearinghouse for Research,
located at www.ericae.net, will provide additional
information, reviews, and opinions of the merits of National Board Certification.
The National Board for Professional Teaching
Standards maintains its Web site at www.nbpts.org
and can be reached at 1-800-22-TEACH. The NBPTS can also be contacted
through the following information: