More than 4,000 Teachers Achieve National Board Certification, Profession’s Mark of Accomplished Teaching

Results Follow National Poll Showing Broad Public Demand for Certification   

ARLINGTON, Va. —December 3, 2014— In 2013-14, more than 4,000 teachers nationwide achieved National Board Certification through a performance-based, peer-review process similar to Board certification in medicine. To date, more than 110,000 teachers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia have achieved the profession’s gold standard for accomplished teaching, based on standards—created by teachers, for teachers—that define what teachers should know and be able to do to advance student learning. 

The results come on the heels of a nationwide poll released in September by PDK International and Gallup that showed that more than 80 percent of Americans agree that teachers should achieve Board certification, beyond being licensed to practice. In addition, 70 percent of respondents agreed that “new teachers should spend at least a year practicing under the guidance of a certified teacher before assuming responsibility for their own classrooms.”

“The public clearly sees the value in Board certification as an assurance that teachers have met the profession’s highest standards and have the knowledge and skills necessary to advance student learning,” said Ronald Thorpe, president and CEO of the National Board. “Still, we have a long way to go to make Board certification the norm and the expectation in the profession. Today, only a small fraction of America’s teachers are Board certified. We owe it to our students and our future to make them a majority—and to build the coherent trajectory that supports every teacher to reach accomplished practice.”

Board-certified teachers, known as NBCTs, are leading both in and outside of the classroom. A recent survey of NBCTs showed that 54 percent have served or are currently working as team leaders, 36 percent as department chairs and 15 percent as staff developers or instructional coaches. Forty-three percent of NBCTs have led efforts to implement the Common Core State Standards in their schools, districts and states, while the same percentage have been involved in leading the implementation of teacher evaluation systems through peer review or observation. More than three out of four NBCTs have led professional development efforts in their schools. In higher education, 234 NBCTs are serving as full-time faculty and 2,251 have served or are serving as adjunct faculty. On the state level, 116 are serving on a board of education. 

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said: “"The medical profession has, over time, developed a strong professional continuum from initial training through advanced practice and board certification. We have an opportunity today in education to take a page from medicine and to build up the teaching profession, giving teachers the rigorous preparation and support they need and the respect they deserve. Board certification plays an important role in this process by setting the standard for advanced practice in teaching."

Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, saluted the new NBCTs: 

"National Board Certification is one of many pathways for teachers to be recognized as accomplished practitioners in their profession. It’s so much more than a certificate that hangs on a wall or an acronym after a teacher’s name. It’s a challenging process that allows good teachers to reflect on their practices—what works and what they can improve upon. We salute our members who have invested themselves in this rigorous process and are excited about what it means for the students they serve."

Washington State gained the most NBCTs with 946 teachers achieving in 2014, with 14 percent of the statewide teaching workforce now Board certified. States that experienced the largest growth in their ranks of NBCTs were Wyoming (16 percent), Washington (13 percent) and Hawaii (12 percent). North Carolina continues to lead the nation with 20,611 teachers in the state achieving Board certification to date. Each of these states benefits from strong systems of peer support and mentoring for candidates, state and district incentives for certification, and recognition of the importance of Board certification from union leaders to state legislators.

The vision of making Board certification the norm for teachers is gaining ground across the country. Groups representing teachers and administrators in Arizona, Kentucky, New York, and Washington State, as well as in the San Francisco and Albuquerque school districts, are partnering with each other and the National Board to dramatically boost their ranks of Board-certified teachers and match them to instructional leadership roles in high-need schools. Similar efforts are underway in states and districts from Maine to Mississippi, New Mexico to Wyoming, often led by networks of NBCTs that recruit and support candidates for certification and advocate on behalf of effective education policy that benefits students. 

National Board Certification is available in 25 certificate areas from Pre-K−12th grades. Research has shown that the students of NBCTs learn more than their peers in other classrooms, which is why many states and districts offer incentives for teachers to pursue Board certification.