January 2013 - National Board Certification
December 18, 2012

Nationally certified teachers near 1,500 mark in New York

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United
Caption: Kristin Mecum, right, a teacher at Hughes School in Syracuse, achieved National Board Certification with help from her colleague, Melanie Addai, left, who co-planned lessons and gave Mecum feedback and encouragement. Addai earned NBCT status last year. Photo by Steve Jacobs.

A total of 156 New York teachers achieved National Board Certification in 2012, bringing the state's overall number to nearly 1,500 pre-K-12 educators who have attained the profession's highest standard.

NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira congratulated the newest round of successful applicants, who spent up to 400 hours of their own time having their classroom skills measured against the highest standards of the teaching profession.

National Board Certification is offered for 25 subject areas and various grade levels. Educators must complete a rigorous assessment process that includes teaching portfolios, student work samples, videotaping and a thorough analysis of the candidate's teaching and students' learning.

"As we move toward a statewide system of meaningful evaluations that help improve teaching practice, National Board Certification stands out as a leading professional development tool for teachers," Neira said. "Highly accomplished teachers who take on the challenge of National Board Certification are, in reality, 'owning' their evaluations by engaging in the hard work and self-reflection necessary to grow as a professional."

A report by the American Federation of Teachers, one of NYSUT's national affiliates, calls on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to take a leading role in defining entry into the profession. The NBPTS has agreed to convene a commission of stakeholders to examine state teacher preparation standards and work with assessment experts to develop a comprehensive entrance exam.

Last month, Neira and Education Commissioner John King honored Capital Region candidates in Schenectady, which now has more NBCTs than any other district in the state except New York City. This year, 14 Schenectady Federation of Teachers members became NBCT's, bringing the district's total to 56. Other top districts are Arlington, Rochester, Wappingers and Niskayuna.

One reason for the steady number of candidates is NYSUT's continued support and resources to assist members in pursuing certification.

The union co-sponsored numerous awareness sessions and candidate support activities, working in cooperation with teacher centers and NYSUT's Education & Learning Trust. The union also has encouraged educators to try Take One! a professional growth opportunity that can serve as the first step toward National Board Certification.

Maureen Shiland, director of the Resource Center for National Board Council, said Take One! is aligned with the state's Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) process and some schools are even weaving it into their plans.

Some local unions have negotiated various incentives for NBCTs and for teachers participating in the NBC process. In the last year, Ithaca, Marcus Whitman, Marlboro, Pine Bush, Hoosic Valley, Marathon and Willisboro joined the list of about 200 local unions that have negotiated incentives.