Monday, November 16, 2009

What is National Board Certification, Anyhow?

Education expert Liv Finne doesn't really seem to know what National Board Certification is:
The Seattle Times article also reveals that, in order to qualify for these funds, the state will be attempting to describe its National Board Certification for teachers as a performance pay system. This program does not involve evaluating the individual performance of teachers for their effectiveness in the classroom. Rather, National Board Certification gives bonuses to teachers willing to take another set of classes and/or willing to work in inner-city classrooms.
"Gives bonuses to teachers willing to take another set of classes" is a real slap at the work that National Board Certified teachers have to do to get the certificate. It's not the Masters degree, Liv, it's something far beyond that. I talk pretty regularly with the teachers in my district who have gotten their certification and who are working towards it, and it's not an easy thing.

I'll be interested to see where the state's gambit on this goes, though. Remember that the HB2261, the big education reform bill from the last session, created a new definition of a master teacher that requires attaining National Certification to get to the top of the pay scale, an action that predates all of the clamor around Race to the Top, so the state could be slightly ahead of the curve.

Remember, too, that in his remarks to the NEA Representative Assembly earlier this year Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke highly of both the National Board program:
We also increased the number of National Board Certified teachers in Chicago to about 1,200—from about a dozen when I started. We partnered with the union and with the Chicago Public Education Fund, which is a group of business leaders. Together we grew NBC teachers faster than anywhere else in the nation.
....but he also indicated that collaboration matters:
The president and I have both said repeatedly that we are not going to impose reform but rather work with teachers, principals, and unions to find what works.
Here in Washington State you've got a system where the teachers and the WEA are working very strongly together on promoting and expanding National Certification in Washington State. If Secretary Duncan believes in the program, and if he wants to encourage that collaboration, why not have what we do count towards Race to the Top?

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