January 2011 Issue
December 19, 2010

Nationally certified teachers top 1,000 mark in New York

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United
Caption: Shannon Casso, a Spanish teacher and Bethlehem Central TA member, receives a special NYSUT pin from NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira that identifies her as an NBCT. Photo by Andrew Watson.

With its largest class ever of teachers earning National Board Certification, New York now has more than 1,000 pre-K-12 educators who have attained the profession's highest standard.

NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira congratulated 131 teachers in the Class of 2010 who were named last month by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. This year's top four districts, all of which have contract language that includes incentives, are Arlington, Niskayuna, New York City and Wappingers.

• New York National Board Certified Teachers Class of 2010: PDF

National Board Certification is awarded to educators who typically spend 200 to 400 hours having their teaching measured against high and rigorous standards through a series of performance-based assessments. These assessments include teaching portfolios, student work samples, videotapes and a thorough analysis of the candidates's teaching and students' learning.

"I'm especially proud to say we have seen a 12 percent increase in the number of NBCTs achieving this outstanding professional achievement," said Neira.

There are now 1,130 NBCTs in New York state and about 400 candidates currently in the process, according to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Perhaps one reason for the upsurge in candidates is NYSUT's additional support and resources to assist members in pursuing National Board Certification.

During the 2009-10 school year, NYSUT co-sponsored more than 60 NBCT awareness sessions throughout the state, thanks to the outstanding effort of the state's teacher center network.

NYSUT has also stepped up to the plate to facilitate the expansion of National Board Writing Institutes in each region of the state to help candidates prepare their applications.

"The writing retreat and ongoing support was a necessity, especially since I was the only one in my district going through the process," said Johnstown TA's Heather Buskirk.

Neira acknowledged the 100 NBCTs who haveparticipated in candidate support provider training and are facilitating more than 40 NBC Professional Learning Communities across the state. Neira also strongly recommended those interested try the "Take One" introductory course.

As the nation looks for better ways to evaluate teachers and gauge teacher effectiveness, the national certification process is a great tool to improve teaching and student achievement, according to Neira.

"National Board Certification is recognized as a model for improving teaching and learning," said Neira, a member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. "Applicants tell us going through the self-reflective, standards-based process is the most valuable professional development they've ever had."

National studies have shown that NBPTS and its advanced teacher certification program have had a profound impact on student achievement, teacher retention and professional development.

States and districts throughout the country are increasingly using National Board Certification as a professional development tool to improve teaching and learning, especially in high-need schools.

"You should all be very proud, but the winners here are not us," Neira told Capital Region teachers in December. "The real winners are the students who are richer for your work, who benefit every day from your passion and dedication."