School librarian Sudha Narsipur enjoys a challenge. So when the Ossining Teachers Association member learned during a presentation that fewer than 35 librarians in New York state were National Board Certified, she was intrigued.
Three years, and countless hours of effort later, Narsipur counts herself among an elite group — one of 136 educators statewide who earned National Board Certification in December.
"Earning my board certification was more rewarding and challenging than anything else I've done professionally," said Narsipur. "Not only is it rigorous, but meeting others and sharing ideas professionally is a great experience."
December's class brings the total number of NBCTs in New York state to 1,602 — a 9.28 percent increase over 2012, ranking New York 17th in the nation. Since 1987, more than 106,000 teachers have achieved National Board Certification in one of 25 areas, defined by subject and student developmental levels.
"New York state's NBCTs represent the most accomplished teachers working across the Empire State today," said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira in congratulating the new class at a celebration in January.
"We need to support more teachers in achieving this highest credential so all of our students, in every school, can benefit from their thoughtful and effective practice," she said.
According to research by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, students of NBCTs outperform their peers in other classrooms on achievement tests; and schools and districts with a high concentration of NBCTs see marked improvements in school culture, collaboration and teacher retention. Like board-certified doctors and accountants, NBCTs have met rigorous standards through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment and peer review. This is what authentic evaluation should be, achieving that professional goal, Neira said.
With NYSUT's strong lobbying support, lawmakers established the state Albert Shanker Grant Program and the Candidate Fee Subsidy Program to support educators who pursue board certification. The Shanker grant, administered by the State Education Department, covers up to $2,000 in initial funding to support New York state public school teachers who are first-time candidates; an additional $500 is reimbursed once the candidate completes the certification process.
Additionally, many locals have successfully negotiated district incentives.
"I look at things in a different way now — I'm not afraid to try out new things and bring new materials to teachers to work with," said Narsipur. "Certification is not easy, but it's worth the challenge."
DID YOU KNOW?
• The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has recently streamlined the process to help teachers better balance the cost and time of pursuing certification. The cost for certification decreases to about $1,900 for first-time candidates beginning in the 2014-15 cycle, and candidates can submit payments over time.
• Candidates can find resources online, including tips, support programs, a list of districts that offer incentives and info on renewals for NBCTs in their ninth or 10th year.
Visit www.nysut.org/nationalboard or www.nbcny.org.
• The Albert Shanker Grant, administered by SED, will cover $2,000 toward the cost of the certification.
• A New York state teacher holding a valid NBC credential is exempt from the requirement to complete 175 hours of professional development for the five-year period immediately following attainment of NBCT recognition.