National board certification is an advanced teacher certification and is granted only when applicants have met rigorous standards and convinced an assessment board that they possess exemplary teaching skills and a high level of proficiency in their subject area. Teachers wishing to achieve national board certification must have their teaching methods evaluated to show that they have a strong knowledge in the subjects they teach, that they have a high level of competency in teaching these subjects to students, that they are committed to excellence, and that they are involved in improving the educational system. Before beginning the process, it is important to study the standards and become aware of the steps involved in acquiring this level of certification.
1. Before pursuing National board certification, you must make sure that you meet all the necessary qualifications. Teachers wishing to apply must have a bachelor’s degree, a teaching/counseling license, and three years of professional teaching experience. If you live where a teaching license is not required, then you must show that you have taught in a state-approved school.
2. As with anything, it is important to count the cost before you begin so you don’t find yourself overwhelmed, unprepared, or unable to finish what you started. The first thing to consider is the time commitment involved. National board certification takes 1-3 years to complete and many teachers say they spend 600-800 hours compiling their portfolio and preparing for assessment activities. Determine if your lifestyle or current commitments will allow for you to give the several hours a week necessary for proper preparation. Of course, you must also consider the financial cost involved. National board certification is an expensive endeavor, beginning with the $65 application fee and finishing with a final investment of approximately $2,500, not including any personal expenses incurred during the preparation process.
3. If finances are an issue, then the high cost of national board certification can be discouraging; however, before deciding to shelf the idea, you should investigate possible funding options available in your area. Many school boards offer assistance to candidates as a way of encouraging their teachers to pursue certification. Additionally, you may qualify for financial aid, state funding, or even a scholarship from education support groups.
4. The next step is to decide which certificate is right for you. There are a variety of certificates available, and your choice will be determined by your subject or speciality as well as the grade or developmental area in which you work.
5. If you have made the decision, secured the financing, and decided on the right certificate, then you are ready to begin the application process, which requires mailing completed forms, requested documentation, and a $65 application fee to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).
6. Once your application has been accepted, the assessment process begins. The first component is performance based and will require you to compile a portfolio of videotaped lessons, essays, and samples of student work. The purpose of this portfolio is to showcase teaching methods, levels of student learning, interaction with families, and involvement with the community and other professionals. For the second component, you will need to book an appointment at an assessment center and complete a series of six activities within a specified period of time.
More and more teachers are seeking National board teacher certification because several recent studies have shown that it improves the standard of teaching quality, produces a higher level of student learning, and provides a stronger, more reputable education system. Many districts are encouraging their teachers to apply for this level of certification and are willing to help facilitate the process. However, before beginning, you should make sure that your state recognizes the program and that you are well aware of the standards and commitments involved.