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Mission and History

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Recognized as the gold standard in teacher certification, the National Board believes higher standards for teachers means better learning for students.

The founding mission of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is to advance the quality of teaching and learning by: 

  • Maintaining high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do; 
     
  • Providing a national voluntary system certifying teachers who meet these standards; 
     
  • Advocating related education reforms to integrate National Board Certification in American education and to capitalize on the expertise of National Board Certified Teachers.  

The Beginnings of a Movement

In 1983, a landmark report titled A Nation at Risk detailed a “rising tide of mediocrity” in education that threatened America’s future. In response, the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy convened a task force of policymakers, educators, teachers associations and business leaders. In A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century, the task force called for strengthening standards in teaching and professionalizing the teaching workforce. 

In 1987, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards was born. Governor James B. Hunt Jr. of North Carolina served as the first chair of NBPTS Board of Directors and former Ford Foundation executive, James A. Kelly, became the National Board’s first president.  
 

Built from Teacher Expertise

The National Board was established as the profession’s vehicle for defining and recognizing accomplished teaching. National Board Standards are created by teachers, for teachers, as is National Board Certification, a voluntary process to certify teachers against those standards. 

Did you know?

  • Generous initial funding support for the National Board came from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Carnegie’s predecessor organization had funded the Flexner Report in 1910, a report credited with catalyzing medicine’s transformation into the respected field it is today.
     
  • AFT president Al Shanker was possibly the first person to call for the creation of a national standards board for teaching in a 1985 National Press Club speech.
     
  • The majority of NBPTS Board members are National Board Certified Teachers.