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.

  • RachelEvans

    A Teacher-Led Organization


    I await my scores. “November,” I’m told. I wake in a panic about every 5 weeks retracing my analysis–did I write about it? Did I answer the questions? I certainly hope that November brings good news.

    I participated in the Jump Start Conference in Spokane, WA in June of 2012. It was entirely teacher led. Teachers teaching teachers, and it was awesome. My time was valued, not a second was wasted, and I left knowing what to do, where to look, and how to get more help.

    It was such a refreshing experience. I love the idea of teachers taking over (my words). I’d love to get involved (provided I passed!) Please keep me in mind. I live and teach in Seattle.

    Thank you for the updates!

    • ReneeMoore

      Don’t Wait

      You’re welcome for the updates. I remember well the anxious waiting for my scores (more on that in a minute). While you’re waiting, though you can be as involved in being a teacher leader as you’d like through NBPTS  and here in the Collaboratory.  Check out the blogs and other information on both sites, and chime in wherever and whenever you wish.

      Your post gives me a chance to comment on something important about the National Board process. I’ve  heard many people ask why it takes so long for the scores to come back. While we’re certainly looking for ways to improve all aspects of the certification process, I like to remind teachers that this is a performance assessment. You’ve spent months preparing these materials, which include artifacts chosen by you that show what you do in your classroom with real students. Looking through all of that material thoughtfully and systematically is labor intensive (one reason why the process is also expensive).  And, candidates receive some feedback on their entries. Most teachers I know, grade student work, especially summative assessments, as a group and return them all to a class at the same time. This return is often a time of reflection, discussion, and more learning.  We should think of Board scores just like that (only with a much larger class!).  Hope to celebrate with you in November.

  • Megan Patrick

    Current Candidate

    Like Rachel, I am also awaiting scores anxiously.  I was the first class of NB candidates to submit the portfolio online, which brought about a lot of added stress.  Now this has heightened my anxiety level.  On a positive note, I, too, am thrilled at the prospect of teachers taking over– let’s hope we both passed and can be a part of that!

    • ReneeMoore

      Don’t Stress

      The move to electronic portfolios was long overdue and came in part from the push by NBCTs on the Board and staff who saw it as a way to improve the process. Candidates I was talking with here were grateful for the additional time the electronic submissions gave them to complete their portfolios.

      As I suggested to Rachel, you don’t have to wait until you pass to be involved in your profession or as a teacher leader. You’ve taken a great first step by pursuing Certification and by joining the conversation here. Welcome.