House Bill 1045: National Board Certification (Carla Claycomb)
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
House Education Committee
Feb. 13, 2008
Good morning. I am Dr. Carla Claycomb from the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). I am a Pennsylvania-certified elementary school teacher, and currently I work for PSEA where I support our 185,000 members across the Commonwealth. Our members include teachers, pupil services personnel, instructional support professionals and thousands of others who serve in our public schools everyday. I am pleased to have the opportunity to voice PSEA’s support for HB 1045 and for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
PSEA members know what it takes to support effective teaching. They know that, among other things, it takes ample resources, adequate time, effective leadership, supportive families and communities, engaging curriculum and instruction, and comprehensive support for students’ health and well-being. They also know that it takes high-quality, sustained professional development for teachers that ties directly to the students and the content they teach.
If any profession understands the value of life-long learning, it is teachers. If any teacher professional development opportunity exemplifies the value of life-long learning, it is the National Board process.
The value of National Board Certification for our students and our teachers is well-established. More than 150 studies have examined National Board Certification and the vast majority found that the process has a significant, positive impact on teacher performance and student learning, engagement and achievement. For our students, research shows that National Board Certification corresponds with higher student achievement on standardized tests, particularly among Latino and African American students. Research also suggests that National Board Certification correlates with deeper learning outcomes among students. National Board Certification also helps teachers truly believe they can affect student achievement; and they can, particularly since the National Board process helps teachers implement more challenging curricula, develop higher-level instruction, and provide more comprehensive feedback to students. It should come as little surprise that 92 percent of National Board candidates say the process has made them a better teacher; that’s what great professional development should do.
The National Board process is designed to be great professional development. At its best, it puts teachers in charge of the professional growth, it organizes teachers into professional learning communities, it focuses on the learning of all students, it deepens educators’ knowledge of content and pedagogy, and it engages teachers with families and in the broader school community. It develops truly reflective educational practitioners. This is the kind of professional development that teachers say they want and need.
The good news is that nearly 64,000 teachers across the country have already completed this professional development opportunity and earned the National Board credential. Unfortunately, fewer than 400 of these teachers live and work in Pennsylvania. For many reasons, HB 1045 is an important step to change that fact.
1. It provides fee subsidies so that teachers, regardless of their personal or financial circumstances, are more likely to participate. Teachers already donate hundreds of dollars every year to buy supplies for their classrooms, and candidates donate hundreds of hours to earn the National Board credential. Providing a state subsidy for the fees associated with National Board certification is a critical gesture of support to encourage our members to pursue this credential.
2. It levels the playing field for high-wealth and low-wealth districts. Several districts already provide fee support for teachers who pursue the National Board credential. However, local districts have substantially different capacities to pay candidate fees. State fee support, with an emphasis on hard-to-staff schools and content areas, helps all districts encourage teachers to pursue National Board certification, particularly those districts with student populations that stand the most to gain.
3. It demonstrates your support for a system to recruit and support National Board candidates. At PSEA, we hear from teachers about their experiences with National Board. Overwhelmingly, our members feel enriched by the process, but too many feel isolated from the larger professional community of National Board candidates. HB 1045 supports the system of Pennsylvania Centers for Teaching Excellence. These Centers fill an important gap for many National Board candidates by building supportive professional communities among candidates. Done right, candidate support programs, such as those offered by the Centers for Teaching Excellence, can also improve the rate at which teachers earn the National Board credential.
4. It builds momentum. Already, as a result of PDE’s support for Candidate Support Centers and for National Board candidates, PSEA is proud to have three times the number of new candidates engaging in the process this year than last year. For many districts, they are seeing their first candidates enter the process this year. With statewide support, more and more teachers are hearing about the National Board.
Our members know that great professional development matters, for themselves, their profession, and, of course, their students. That’s why so many of them go on to earn graduate credits beyond the required 24 and professional development hours beyond the required 180. When I go into districts across the state, I am consistently met by professionals who hold themselves and their students to high standards of continuous learning. But the quality and rigor of professional development available to teachers is all over the map. National Board certification provides the kind of professional development that many teachers seek. In a system of continuing education that is often fragmented and of variable quality, how refreshing it is to be able to recommend to our members a professional development and credentialing process that is uniformly rigorous, coherent, and job-embedded.
Of course, public education is too complex for panaceas. Public schools need support in many ways: in terms of financial resources, physical and emotional safety interventions, teaching and learning materials, stable and effective leadership, collegial working environments, and, certainly, professional development. But PSEA is convinced that 65,000 teachers and 150 research studies are probably right: the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is a great professional opportunity—governed, designed, completed and ultimately evaluated by teachers—for individual educators and for the field of education. I’ve heard from teachers across the state who want this experience, and I believe the evidence is clear that students across the Commonwealth will benefit when their teachers pursue it. PSEA is very proud of the work we have already done to promote National Board across the Commonwealth, and we are proud to support both HB 1045 and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
Thank you for the opportunity to address this issue. I would be happy to respond to your questions.
Goldhaber, D. and E. Anthony. 2005. Can Teacher Quality Be Effectively Assessed? Washington, DC: Urban Institute. http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411271_teacher_quality.pdf; Cavalluzzo, L. 2004. Is National Board Certification an Effective Signal of Teacher Quality? Alexandria, VA: CNA Corporation. http://www.cna.org/documents/CavaluzzoStudy.pdf.
Smith, T., et al. 2005. An Examination of the Relationship between Depth of Student Learning and National Board Certification Status. Boone, NC: Appalachian State University Office for Research on Teaching. http://www.news.appstate.edu/releases/091905NBPTS%20Manuscrip.pdf
Yankelovich Partners. 2001. Leading from the Classroom: Highlights from the 2001 NBPTS National Board Certified Teacher Leadership Survey. Chapel Hill, NC: Yankelovich Associates. http://www.nbpts.org/UserFiles/File/leading_from_the_classroom(1).pdf
Lustik, D. and G. Sykes. 2006. National Board Certification as Professional Development: What Are Teachers Learning? Education Policy Analysis Archives v 14 n 5. http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v14n5/
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. 2001. National Board Certification Candidate Survey. Referenced in: http://www.nbpts.org/userfiles/File/NPBTS_research_report_07.pdf