NBPTS Aims to Level Up the Profession

What could teaching look like if teachers had to complete a residency program?

In 2004, when I became a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), I was excited to join a professional network pushing the profession forward. What I found was an organization with high ideals, committed professionals, but no vision as to how to move forward. As I have written before, this is how I found the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ).

Only two days before my renewal as an NBCT I learned of a new effort, a collective vision, to move the profession forward. A new organization, brought together by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), is a collective of over 100 professional stakeholder organizations in the teaching profession. The organization, called the Coalition for Teaching Quality, (link is external)*  has set forth a vision for leveling up the profession.

The Coalition’s vision is based on a simple premise. Raising the preparation and credentialing process of teachers to the level of doctors, with the transformation of NBCT status into THE standard for the profession through alignment of the NBC designation with Board Certification of doctors. This proposal includes four key steps, two old and two new, that create a stronger foundation for the profession.

The coalition puts for the idea that teachers should complete a 4 step process to becoming a “Teacher of Record” (TOR) in our public schools. The first is a bachelor’s degree in an appropriate discipline. A degree for middle and secondary teachers would most likely be in a content area, for elementary teachers a degree in sociology or psychology. This is not new to the profession.

The second step is new. The Coalition supports the idea of completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program. Successfully completing a state-approved preparation program that “includes clinical experiences that use models of accomplished practice and instructors with K-12 experience to prepare teacher candidates for the realities of the classrooms and the schools they will encounter.” While this step is fairly traditional it is a change in direction for the country in that it calls into question quick-stop certification programs that expect new teachers to learn as they go.

The third step is completion of a residency program. This step aligns the profession more closely with the medical profession in that it requires close supervision by accomplished practitioners not semester long student-teaching assignments. I have seen the value of residencies in my own city as the Richmond Teacher Residency program (link is external), hosted by the Center for Teacher Leadership (link is external)at Virginia Commonwealth University,has staffed Richmond area schools with qualified young teachers in hard-to-staff urban schools. Residencies would change the focus from preparing to be a teacher to acting as a teacher with higher education supervision. This would also require collaboration between higher ed and local school systems and suggests a blurring of lines between those that prepare teachers and those that teach.

The fourth step is critical. It calls for a performance assessment of teacher practice. EdTPA is strategically positioned for this new step in TOR preparation. I have looked closely at edTPA know that it is a challenging assessment. It is more than a test of teacher knowledge. One of the challenges those completing edTPA face is the time constraint of completing the assessment in a 8-16 week student teaching placement. By moving to a residency model I this challenge would be addressed along with providing teacher candidates a more nuanced understanding of teacher practice before attempting edTPA. Once the profession has moved to Teacher of Record model as opposed to a Teacher by Credential model we will start to see many of the benefits of accomplished practice.

Finally, the National Board process would serve as the standard for the profession similar to board certification in medicine.

This bold vision offers opportunities for inclusion of accomplished teacher voice at every level, including designing teacher preparation, serving as residency mentors, and in assisting teacher candidates in edTPA completion. As a newly recertified NBCT I feel like the NBPTS is finally moving the profession forward and I have arrived at the place I hoped to find 10 years ago.

*Yes, that name does sound similar to your friendly neighborhood teacher leadership Collaboratory. CTQ is a member of the coalition.

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  • CarlDraeger

    Worth the wait…

    John, I’m so glad that you were able to persevere through the vacuum of teacher leadership. I think we all agree that the next steps weren’t there even 5 years ago. Raising the bar on licensure is a powerful tool in increasing efficacy in teaching. I haven’t done enough research yet, but I have an inkling that the hard to fill bilingual and dual language teacher positions may take a hit. The edTPA is extremely language intensive from what I’ve seen of it. This will impact the already small pool of candidates. Also, the lack of equity and social justice components of the instrument along with not stressing teacher leadership during the induction phase may also be a cause of concern. I am jazzed by the ‘Teacher of Record’ concept. As Todd Whittaker said on Twitter, “Principals shouldn’t hire teachers to fall in line; they should hire teachers to make their own line.” Changing from the “learn as you go model” (I’d like to meet the sadist who came up with that one.) is also key to retaining quality teachers. Keep up the good work and keep fighting the fight. Our kids deserve our best.



  • Jan Ogino

    If Only

    Dear John, 

    It would be great if like doctors, teachers would be monetarily compensated for all of that extraordinary preparation.  As long as education is a public endeavor, the money won’t be there.  If the money isn’t there the most intelligent and most likely to succeed college student will not go into education.  Right now the studies show that the best and brightest do not go into the field of education, so although I would love to see our profession be elevated to the level that you describe, those that go into the college of education will ironically not be the smartest of the college bound. 

    There are so many things we have to do to turn our profession around, I almost believe it is too little too late.  To add insult to injury, many of us in red states have seen how for profit charters and private school vouchers have already decimated the public school system, leaving the passionate like us believing nothing we do is going to save a dying system.  

    Having said these things, I am pursuing National Board Certification because what little hope I now have, I still have hope.

    • ReneeMoore

      Compensation comes after elevation


      Historical note: Those other professions, particularly doctors, did not start getting compensated the way they do until AFTER they ramped up their preparation and elevated themselves to true professions, so we are definitely headed in the right direction. Also, many people don’t realize the residencies that medical students/new doctors do are primarily paid for through tax dollars (Medicaid and Medicare).

      Like John, I’m glad to see NBPTS and the other groups in this coalition FINALLY moving us to where we should have been by now. But it will take all of us in the profession to turn this long-held dream into reality. Residency should be required; Board certification should be the expected norm–not the rare exception.