All benefit from National Board Certification

By Staff
Feb. 1, 2001
Editor's note: Last fall, Meridian High School teacher Shirley Burton was one of eight teachers from the Meridian Public School District (MPSD) who completed requirements for the National Board Certification, the highest standard for the teaching profession. Mississippi ranks No. 5 in the nation for the number of teachers who have completed the certification process. MPSD currently has 28 National Board Certified teachers referred to as Master Teachers.
In the following column, Burton explains the designation and its importance to the community.
What is National Board for Professional Teaching Standards?
It is a 63 member, nonpartisan, nonprofit, independent board of directors composed of governors, lawmakers, business and community leaders and educators.
Why was National Board for Teachers created?
Mounting concern over the mediocre state of American schools that surfaced after 1986, Carnegie report "teacher for the 21st Century" forged the creation of a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Improving education is a top priority.
Why is it important for community people to know about national board?
Education impacts each of our lives and it is too important to ignore. Very few people outside of the coterie of NBC teachers understand the purpose of National Board Certification. The concept is simple enough: Students are taught by teachers and when teachers meet high, rigorous national standards, student learning improves and we all benefit.
What are the incentives for teachers who seek national certification?
Unquestionably, the desire to be the best teacher possible is an intrinsic motivator. However, the monetary incentives vary from state to state. In Mississippi, teachers who achieve National Board Certification receive a $6,000 salary increase.
Mississippi has how many National Board Certified teachers?
There are 744, which places Mississippi fifth in the country in the number of NBC teachers.
Does Mississippi have a good cross-representation of NBC teachers?
No, of the 744 certified teachers, only 26 are black teachers, representing a mere 3.5% percent. While there are numerous imaginative and innovative teachers working in the classroom across the state, there is a need to encourage more black teachers to seek National Board Certification.
What does National Board Certification cost?
The fee is $2,300, plus additional cost associated with completing the process. This may be a determent for some teachers.
How rigid is National Board Certification?
Teachers seeking national board are required to demonstrate a high level of accomplishment.
Teachers are assessed on ten separate components. They are required to submit unedited videotapes that reflect the design and execution of the lesson based on NBC core propositions. Teachers must write 10- to 15-page commentaries of their videos. They are required to submit artifacts of student's work that must demonstrate higher order teaching.
In addition, teachers must submit evidence of their efforts to involve parents in their child's learning. Moreover, they must show evidence of collaboration with their colleagues in improving student's learning. Finally, teachers must demonstrate the depth of their knowledge on a day long national essay exam. The entire process takes one year.
What has the state department of education done to entice teachers to seek NBC?
The state department established six World Class Teaching Programs across Mississippi that operate exclusively for preparing teachers for national board. It refunded teachers (who complete the process) the entire cost of taking NBC. More importantly, it provides a salary increase of $6,000.
What was the greatest challenge you faced in your quest for national board certification?
Achieving NBC represents the greatest milestone in my 28 years in education. Unquestionably, the greatest challenge was the commitment of time required to systematically demonstrate my teaching ability on a national level. Let's not mince words, the process is rigorous and complex.
What does being national board certified mean to you?
Well, I have always worked hard and held high expectations for my students. Being an exemplary teacher means a great deal to me and receiving NBC sort of validated this. It is rewarding to know that your teaching practices can complete with and measure up to those of other teachers across the country.
Do we have an equal number of national board certified teachers in the elementary and secondary schools?
No, the vast majority of NBC teachers are certified at the elementary level. There are very few teachers certified at the high school level. I am the only classroom teacher at Meridian High and we have two at Ross Collins Vocational School. Also, we have two counselors who are nationally certified.
What has Meridian public schools done to attract more teachers into NBC?
Under Dr. Janis McLin's administration, teachers have been helped by the district paying half of the board fees. Additionally, teachers are given five release days to work on national board. The support from the school system has been most beneficial.
Shirley Burton teaches 12th grade economics at Meridian High School. She received national board certification in 2000 and was inducted into the Mississippi Hall of Master Teachers in 1996.

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