What is National Board Certification?

National CertificationThe new school year is now under way, and you may be doing some big thinking when it comes to your classroom. Maybe you’ve had some time to reflect on your last year of teaching, and are looking to refresh your usual teaching style. If that’s you, you’re probably looking into professional development opportunities — but have you looked into earning your National Board Certification?

Here’s a look at what the National Board Certification is, how much time it takes to pursue it and what you can come away with after you earn it.

National Board Certification Structure and Requirements

Unlike a master’s degree, a National Board Certification isn’t required to teach. But it will enhance your work, and it may — like a degree — boost your hire ability. It can also help you negotiate better pay at your existing job, or count toward any professional development hours your school district may require.

Time-wise, the certification takes about four or five months to earn. Candidates are required to have at least three years of professional teaching experience because the course is heavy on reflection. In other words, you need to have work experience to properly participate in lessons and contribute analysis work you may have done in the past. You’ll also need to have a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license in the state you’re working in.

The certification is offered in 25 different areas from K-12, though the course alwayscontains four components:

  • Written assessment of content knowledge
  • Reflection on student work samples
  • Video and analysis of teaching practice
  • Documented impact and accomplishments as a teaching professional.

Origins of National Board Certification

Established in 1987, The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the teaching profession. Like Common Core for students, the NBPTS seeks to set standards and advocate for policies that improve teaching, with the end goal of higher student achievement.

The board also hopes to increase awareness of teachers’ work in the general public. By setting higher standards for those entering into the teaching profession, recognizing excellent teachers’ achievement (through a widely respected certification process), and promoting better understanding of teaching, the NBPTS works to garner respect for the incredible work educators do.

The Five Core Propositions of National Board Certification

Soon after the National Board was founded, it published a document, which outlines its core values. The document was entitled, “What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do,” and created the common sense basis for the certification program.

The propositions of the document are as follows:

  • Proposition 1: Teachers are committed to students and their learning.
  • Proposition 2: Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.
  • Proposition 3: Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning
  • Proposition 4: Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience
  • Proposition 5: Teachers are members of learning communities.

Developed by teachers, as well as experts in child development and teacher education, these tenets formed a highly effective, reality-based certification program. Board Certification has helped shape responsible, engaged, community-minded teachers (more than half of those certified work in high-needs schools), as well as some of the most influential educators in the field — more than a third of all winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching have been NBCTs, since 2005.

The National Education Association is a high-profile supporter of the program. According to the NEA website, “NEA members attest to the positive effects the National Board Certification process has on their classroom practices,” saying that the certification process is “rigorous” and “challenging,” and “…causes teachers to analyze their work. It is a powerful learning experience whether they achieve National Board Certification or not.”

Financial Benefits of National Board Certification

Setting aside skills and career advancement, financials are a key part of why you may want to get board certified. Be sure to check out the NBPTS state pages to see what your state may offer in terms of incentives for getting Board certified. “Many states and local districts offer bonuses for candidates who complete National Board Certification,” according to the site, which also offers information about scholarships, grants, candidate support, graduate credit and more based on where you live.

Unlike many professions, teaching can be difficult to show mastery in: years of experience don’t always translate into quantifiable achievement the way they do in a field that offers regular promotions in both responsibility and pay.

A respected certification may be a good way to demonstrate your value as an educator, and help you leverage it for career advancement. It also just might make you a better teacher.