VEA Moving to Bolster Support for National Board Candidates and Maintaining NBCTs
February 16, 2022
February 16, 2022
By Amy Brown
Talk to a National Board Certified Teacher, and they’ll tell you the certification process was one of the most challenging professional tasks they’ve ever faced. They’ll also probably tell you it was the best professional development they’ve ever gotten.
“The process is incredibly reflective,” says NBCT and Chesterfield Education Association member Meg Dolle. “It’s designed to make me articulate why I do what I do and to always consider how to improve. The standards used in the National Board process are clearly written by professionals who understand what good teaching is in my discipline, unlike in many other PD experiences I have had. This helped motivate me.”
Earning National Board Certification is an imposing challenge, too, adds Dolle, a high school English teacher. “The National Board gives you about 90 pages of description of everything accomplished teachers in your discipline should be doing,” she says, “and you have to show evidence that you do those things consistently, all in three writing assignments and within a strict page limit.”
The payoff isn’t just in professional accomplishment, though: Several studies have documented that certification is not only transformative for NBCTs but also for their students, who show learning gains exceeding those of their peers taught by non-NBCTs.
That’s why we need more National Board certified teachers. Right now, only about 3 percent of Virginia’s teachers have earned NBCT status, and more than 40 percent of them are in just five of our 133 school divisions. While this is certainly great for students in those communities, more NBCTs would just as certainly be a boost to both teaching and learning throughout our state.
To help make this happen, VEA is developing supports for our members pursuing certification and for current NBCTs working to maintain their certificates. We are also excited to engage NBCTs in this work as they share their expertise with others. Here are some ways we can help:
How We’re Advocating
Awareness. We’re creating and delivering content to inform educators, parents, school division leaders, legislators and others about the National Board Certification process and its benefits for students and teachers.
Local support. We’re advocating for local school divisions to support National Board Certification by offering incentives and support that acknowledge the benefit NBCTs bring to their students. These may include financial incentives and support as well as professional leave, points toward recertification, and in-division cohort support, all of which can make working in that school division more attractive to accomplished educators.
State support. We’re alerting Virginia’s legislators who review and revise the existing stipend to not only increase the amount paid to NBCTs per year of their certificate, but also to seek ways this money can be restructured to affect educators’ retirement funds, as well as annual pay. Additionally, we believe NBCTs who remain in education but move out of the classroom to leadership roles should not be forced to lose their stipend as they do under the current provision.
How We’re Supporting Certification Candidates
Jump Start. A virtual pilot of Jump Start was offered this fall, and next June, Jump Start will return in-person! This popular NEA program provides candidates with an intensive workshop experience in which experienced NBCT facilitators guide them through unpacking their certificate standards, component instructions, and foundations of the process. Participants leave Jump Start organized and prepared to begin their certification process with clear direction and confidence.
Professional Learning Facilitator support. VEA members and NBCTs are being trained to be PLFs that may serve as readers, one-on-one mentors, or cohort leaders to support candidates pursuing their initial certification or seeking to maintain their current certificate.
Online and in-person support. We’ll be using available technology to offer a choice of independent or guided learning paths to support members through the certification process. Additionally, we’re putting together workshops focusing on specific components of the certification process.
Growing Quality Teachers
In the coming year, we’re going to connect our Aspiring Educators and Early Career Educators with NBCT mentors. Those mentors will help develop high-quality teachers using the foundational elements of the National Board Certification process as a basis for reflecting on current teaching practice and planning ways to improve it.
Brown, an NBCT and York Education Association member, is a Teaching Fellow in VEA Teaching & Learning, focusing her work on National Board Certification.
Well, for a variety of reasons. Here are some of them, from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, cited by teachers who’ve been through the process:
You’ll have a direct impact on your students. A decade of research supports the impact that Board-certified teachers have on students. Students of Board-certified teachers learn more than their peers without Board-certified teachers. Studies have also found that the positive impact of having a Board-certified teacher is even greater for minority and low-income students.
You’ll get professional development that will stay with you. A national survey of effective teachers’ views on PD found 96% of respondents shared that National Board Certification was among the top three most impactful PD experiences for advancing their practice.
The process is teacher created and driven. Too often, professional development opportunities are not shaped by the wisdom and expertise of practicing educators. That is not the case with National Board Certification. The National Board Standards and the 5 Core Propositions are developed by committees of educators who are broadly representative of professionals in their field.
It will change the way you teach. A huge majority (91 percent) of teachers engaging with the National Board standards reported that it had a direct impact on their instructional practices. These shifts include adjusting lesson plans and to meet the needs of individual students, using data in new ways to assess student progress and learning goals, deepening their content knowledge.
National Board Certification is available in 25 certificate areas representing 16 different disciplines and four developmental levels and is applicable to most teachers in U.S. public schools.
To learn more about the National Board Certification Process, visit the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards website at www.nbpts.org or contact Amy Brown in VEA Teaching and Learning at firstname.lastname@example.org.