Every teacher I know continually strives to get better at the art and science of teaching. Pursuing National Board Certification is one of the best avenues I know to accomplish that goal. NEA was one of the founding organizations that created the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards nearly 30 years ago. Research shows a strong link between board certification and higher student achievement. But I also hear from educators how the reflective process involved in aligning their practice to National Standards and providing evidence that their work positively impacts the learning of all their students is one of the most rewarding and powerful learning experiences of their career.
The process for achieving board certification was recently revised to be more flexible, efficient and less expensive. Many NEA members were closely involved in leading those changes and ensuring that the new process retained its peer-reviewed integrity, alignment to the National Board Standards, and commitment to student learning. We’ll be featuring blog posts over the next few weeks from teachers who have been through the certification process. The educators will share some of the nuts and bolts of certification and how it benefited them and their students.
Our first blog post is from 2001 Mississippi Teacher of the Year Renee Moore, a National Board Certified Teacher and English teacher at Mississippi Delta Community College, formerly Lead Teacher at Broad Street High School in Shelby, Miss.
As former co-chair of the National Board Professional Teaching Standards Certification Council, I have been part of the work to redesign the National Board certification process. One of my personal hopes for the redesign is that it will encourage more Black and Hispanic teachers to seek and complete National Board Certification.
Until now, teachers had to complete and pay for the entire process in one school year. Today, with four components that can be spread and paid for over three years, NB has reduced two of the most often-mentioned barriers to certification: money and time.
More important to me, however, is that the process—redesigned by teachers, for teachers—advances our profession by focusing on what matters most: students’ learning (not just student achievement), and teachers’ performance of the range of our professional work.
National Board Certification does so in ways that honor the complexity and humanity of both teachers and students. In the words of my colleague, Michael Rodriguez (himself an integral part of the redesign process), “The National Board is once again breaking ground on defining performance assessment measures in the field.”
National Board friends and critics alike have long expressed concern over the lower certification rates for Black candidates. My discussions with Black NB candidates identified two main areas of concern:
1) the type and amount of writing required in the entries, and
2) lack or poor quality of candidate support available in areas where teachers of color tend to be concentrated.
In the redesign, the number and length of written submissions have been streamlined. Likewise, entry instructions and scoring requirements are more focused and clarified.
The new component-based model also allows for more school-based or other cohort-based professional learning. Teacher leaders at the state and local levels can use these features to create better mentoring opportunities for all candidates.