National Board Begins Countdown to Change

Count this as a news flash:

The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is going through a necessary (and some would argue, overdue) period of transformation. By 2017, NBPTS will complete a major revision of the process making it more affordable, more accessible, and more efficient.

Probably the most important change of all, however, has gotten less notice—the shift in control of the leadership of NBPTS to teachers, and specifically to National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs). Of the 27 member NBPTS Board of Directors, 18 are teachers and 15 of those are NBCTs.  The Board’s Certification Council oversees the development and revision of the Standards by teams of educators, as well as the implementation of the certification process. This critical body has seven members, five of whom are NBCTs, including the two co-chairs (I’m one). The Chief Operating Officer of NBPTS is Andy Coons, NBCT from Tacoma, Washington who was one of the key leaders in the teachers’ strike there. The Director of Standards for NBPTS is an NBCT, Kristin Hamilton, as are many other key staff members.

Count this as a public service announcement:

If you are currently going through National Board Certification, either as a full candidate or in the Take One process, there is important information for you about how changes to the certification process affect current candidates.  If you have not received direct communication from NBPTS, I urge you to: a) Visit this page at the NBPTS website which has the most current information on the changes and how they affect various candidates; and b) Update your contact information in the Candidate profile page.

Count this as a challenge:

 NBPTS is part of a very real battle over whether there will be a true teaching profession in the U.S., and whether it will be controlled by teachers.  In a guest blog at Education Week, Kim Farris-Berg, pointed to several examples across the country of teachers not waiting for permission to assume leadership in schools and in real education reform. I would add the National Board to her list. NBPTS was started by visionary leaders and friends of education, and we are indebted to them for their diligence and contribution. However, it is teachers, especially highly accomplished ones, who must continue to set our own professional standards and be ultimately responsible for holding ourselves accountable to them.  

I’ve met many naysayers who doubt that people who are “just” teachers have the skills to lead an organization with the scope and complexity of the National Board. Happily, they are wrong, but their skepticism reminds us of how far we still have to go to change both the perception and the reality of teacher leadership in the U.S.