A rigorous assessment program designed to recognize and reward excellent teachers, National Board Certification was established to "professionalize the profession". Established in 1987 by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), National Board Certification gives acknowledgement to our best teachers by providing an opportunity to pursue the accomplishment and recognition that other professionals, like doctors and architects, pursue in their areas of specialty. More than 150 studies indicate that National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) make a significant and measurable impact in their schools, and the process is regarded the finest single professional development program available to teachers today. In 2014, a national poll by PDK International and Gallup report states that more than “80 percent of Americans agreed that teachers should achieve Board certification in addition to being licensed to practice, similar to professions like law and medicine” (nbpts.org).
National Board Certification is an advanced teaching credential that complements, but does not replace, a state's teacher license. It is valid for 10 years, after which NBCTs can seek certification renewal. To pursue National Board Certification, a teacher must hold a baccalaureate degree and have three years of teaching experience on a provisional or standards certificate (no emergency or intern) in early childhood, elementary, middle, or secondary schools prior to submitting an application. In addition, a teacher must hold a valid teaching license/credentials during those three years.
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers 25 certificates that cover a variety of subject areas and student developmental levels. These certificates cover 95% of PreK-12 teachers. As teachers pursue National Board Certification, they will be required to complete four components that demonstrate their practice in these areas:
- Content knowledge and differentiation of instruction through analysis of student work and an assessment center experience (Components 1 and 2)
- Teaching practice and learning environment through video analysis (Component 3)
- Documented evidence of effective and reflective practices through work outside the classroom and evidence of how that work impacts student learning (Component 4)
National Board Certification in Arizona
Kathy Wiebke, Executive Director of the Arizona K12 Center, was Arizona’s first National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT). She went through the process during the 1995–1996 school year, and said it changed her teaching significantly. “I found my teaching practice improved. I became an even stronger teacher as a result of going through it,” she said. “I also saw how it impacted people around me. I began to have deeper conversations about teaching and learning because I needed feedback from my peers. The process was extremely difficult but really changed how I look at my practice and the impact I have on children.”
With that experience in mind, and at the helm of the Arizona K12 Center, Wiebke is an advocate, a resource, and a voice for National Board Certification in the state. “National Board Certification defines who we are as a profession,” Wiebke states. “Most professions have an advanced status, elevating that profession, and milestones that demonstrate your abilities.” She sees National Board Certification as serving that purpose for teachers. “I see it not only in terms of the collective big picture, but I’ve also seen how it elevates individual teachers,” she said. “They see themselves differently. It changes the dynamics of the profession, as well.”
To date, Arizona has 1,160 National Board Certified Teachers that are impacting teaching and learning in Arizona. Teachers who go though the process of National Board Certification often remark about the value of the process as a professional development experience. It is grounded in one’s teaching practice, job-embedded, and translates into improved student learning. The journey towards National board Certification provides increased opportunities for teacher leadership.
The process is challenging, yet rewarding. It will cause you to question the educational choices you make in your classroom everyday. We are confident that it will alter your perception on teaching as a career and your own teaching practice. Like over one thousand of Arizona’s teachers, you will walk away from the experience saying, “I am a better teacher for having gone through the process of National Board Certification.” We invite Arizona’s educators to challenge the standards and become a National Board Certified Teacher.
Click here to view the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ Arizona State Profile.
Advancing the Profession
On a national level, NBCTs are advancing the profession through leadership roles within their local contexts. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (2014) reports that:
- More than half of NBCTs are working as team leaders
- More than a third are department chairs
- 15% are staff developers and coaches
- NBCTs are also serving as principals, superintendents, state government officials, state departments of education staff and college faculty.
In Arizona, NBCTs have established a professional network, called the Arizona NBCT Network, to advocate for accomplished teaching and learning. Click here to visit the network page. If you are an NBCT who would like to be part of this network, click here to join.