This guest post comes from Ellen Sherratt, vice president of policy and research at the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).
Across the country, legislators, governors, boards of education, superintendents and teachers are celebrating the new class of teachers certified by NBPTS. At a time of significant policy concern around teacher shortages and depleted teacher morale, joining this celebration — encompassing more than 5,000 new board-certified teachers and 113,000 teachers who already have achieved this “gold standard” recognition — offers a welcome way to ring in the new year.
This year’s class of board-certified teachers marks an exciting time for NBPTS, too, as it follows a several-year gap during which the board redesigned its assessment to best deliver on its mission of scaling accomplished teaching and elevating the profession. In addition to the new assessment, the redesign — based on several years of intensive research and development — resulted in a revised set of standards and a toolkit for school and system leaders.
Board certification can help address multiple challenges faced by the teaching field today:
- Teaching must become a more attractive career option for top talent. A McKinsey & Company survey of the career choices of top-third college students found that only 17 percent felt teaching offered a competitive salary; only 35 percent felt it offered opportunities for professional advancement. Concurrently, research by the Gates Foundation found that salaries and professional growth were among the most important factors influencing teacher retention. Policies that reward board-certified teachers directly address these recruitment and retention challenges.
- Tight education budgets require an eye toward return on investment. Research from TNTP finds that teacher professional development can be an expensive waste of time and resources. Yet in a survey of over 5,000 board-certified teachers, 96 percent cited the certification process as one of their most important professional learning experiences. Further, research demonstrates that students of board-certified teachers not only learn more, they also earn more — demonstrating that national board certification is an investment that pays off.
- The Every Student Succeeds Act shifts significant decision-making authority to states, creating opportunities to engage teachers more directly in state policy. State education systems benefit when larger numbers of qualified teacher leaders engage in teacher voice organizations, state-level teacher advisory groups and state education plans, as well as serve as candidates for office or other leadership positions. Investing in board certification provides more teachers with the skills to take on meaningful leadership roles and improve the quality of teaching for all students.
NBPTS’ new class announcement presents an opportune time for legislators across the aisle to come together to elevate the profession by supporting teachers in achieving board certification. Here’s how:
- This month, join hundreds of state policy leaders in the #TeamNBCT celebration by contacting newly board-certified teachers, offering congratulations and inviting them to share ideas for improving education.
- Beyond this month, join governors in Nevada, Mississippi and Alabama by finding ways to continue to celebrate and honor these accomplished teachers with a National Board-Certified Teacher Day or an NBCT Week each year to celebrate, learn from and raise awareness around board-certified teachers.
- Finally, sponsor and support legislation that pushes more teachers to advance their practice through board certification and that rewards and recognizes those who do. A range of innovative policy options are described in the National Board’s model policy language resource.