National Board Certified Teachers who had to retake components along their journey share advice for how to persevere through a retake year and continue pursuing your goals.

Dec 01, 2021

Retaking Components is Daunting, But Not Impossible

In the United States, there are 34 states (and Washington, DC) where fewer than 5% of the state’s teacher population has achieved National Board Certification, according to 2019 data from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). In Arizona specifically, only 3.21% of the state’s teachers had achieved the milestone as of 2019.

The process of becoming a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) is incredibly time-consuming and rigorous. In fact, many teachers don’t achieve certification after their first submission, which can be heartbreaking.

As scores are released in December, candidates around the country cross their fingers to see passing scores. But if your scores are lower than you hoped, how do you cope with the reality of having to retake a component? Here, we share a few strategies on how to persevere through not yet certifying and ultimately continue the pursuit of your goals.

Carefully Read Available Literature

The NBPTS provides several documents to lead candidates through the process, and are critical to your ability to show evidence of your teaching mastery. Read them thoroughly and consider where you can find evidence in your own practice. Most of what you need to know is found in your instructions — do not overlook their importance.

Be Authentic to Your Practice

 “You may find that you need to learn more or grow as you work toward National Board Certification,” says Donnie Dicus, a professional learning director at the Arizona K12 Center and an NBCT himself. “But don’t copy another teacher or do what you ‘think’ you should do. It won’t translate to your written commentary. Just do what you normally do, but stronger and more effective.”

Be Strategic About Which Component(s) You Retake

Once your scores are available, use the Score Calculator to crunch your numbers. Note that each component is weighted differently, so it’s in your best interest to retake items that will have maximum impact on your overall score.

Also keep in mind the unique setup of Component 1. “If you are able to fund it, consider doing a piece of Component 1,” Dicus advises. “Retakes will never hurt your score, as your attempt with the highest score will be banked.”

Assess the WHY

This is a tough one, as it requires some honest self-reflection. Ask yourself: Do you truly believe you did your best work? Did you spend the time needed to succeed or did you have too many balls in the air at once? Perhaps you need to shed some responsibilities so that you can focus your efforts better during the retake year. Being honest with yourself about how your own behaviors contributed to lower-than-expected scores will set you up for a more successful retake year.

Model Perseverance for Your Students

When our students perform poorly on an assessment, we teach them perseverance — to feel the pain but not give up. We show them that the best way to come back is to learn from the failure and plan better for the next time. As master teachers, we need to model these behaviors, and there is no better time to do so than when we ourselves have to come back from the pain of lower-than-expected scores. In NBCT Susan Collins’ blog post titled “To Retake or Not Retake, THAT is the Question,” she shares her own retake journey, which echoes the message to never give up.

For those of you awaiting scores, remember that if you don’t achieve the outcome you want, it’s not the end of your journey — rather, it’s a continuation of your growth as an educator. And when that journey does end, your success will feel that much better.

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