State of the Board: Engaging in Congress and the Legislatures

ARLINGTON, Va. — February 1, 2016 – During 2015 the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, often in partnership with National Board Certified Teachers, helped drive important change – not only in the nation’s classrooms but also in Congress, statehouses and legislatures across the US. Much of the work advanced the concept of a professional career continuum for educators, grounded in professional teaching standards and anchored by National Board Certification.

“Our belief is that local and state policymakers play an important role in helping to assure that accomplished teachers are in every school in the country,” said Peggy Brookins, National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) and President and CEO of the National Board.

“The National Board works to make elected officials aware of the challenges teachers face and the role Board certification can play to drive advances in student learning and achievement across the country,” she added.

Advancing Policy that Supports Accomplished Teaching

The National Board works to shape the discussion of federal and state education policy while influencing conditions to support teachers across the continuum. 2015 was a momentous year with passage of the updated Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – replacing No Child Left Behind. ESSA devolves significant authority to the state level, providing an opportunity for Board-certified teachers to work more closely with states and districts to strengthen the teaching workforce, grounded in a coherent professional continuum that begins in preparation, leads to accomplished practice and Board certification, and creates opportunities for accomplished educators to take on a variety of leadership roles, without necessarily having to leave teaching.

Throughout 2015, the National Board and Board-certified teachers helped shape the development of ESSA:

  • The National Board provided recommendations on how a reauthorized ESEA could help build a strong teaching workforce.  In partnership with the Coalition for Teaching Quality, the National Board also provided input to Senators Casey and Reed regarding a professional teaching continuum – including developing teaching residency and induction programs – that was incorporated into ESSA.
  • Senate testimony from Board certified teachers helped to impact the debate.  Rachelle Moore, NBCT, from Seattle stressed the importance of investing in a teaching continuum and described how Board-certification has helped her engage in authentic discussions of teaching and learning. Stephen Lazar, NBCT, from New York told Congress: "It is time to fix a broken system of testing and accountability. And it is time to do so with the inclusion of teachers’ voices in the process."

“We believe the outcome of this legislation allows teachers to engage with their local legislators to impact what happens in their classrooms, and this is a big win for schools across the country,” said Brookins. Read the full National Board statement.

National Board policy work across the country included the following:

  • The National Board became a partner of the Center for American Progress’s Teach Strong Campaign which aims to change the national education policy conversation by making strengthening the teaching profession the most pressing and significant education policy priority discussed at all levels of government – including among candidates in the run-up to the 2016 elections.
  • In 2015, National Board reestablished a strong partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) which released a Legislative Guide, Today’s National Board Certification for Teachers: Answers to Legislator’s Questions.

In 2015 state policymakers across the country enacted an array of legislation supporting Board certification. Some examples are:

  • In Nebraska, legislators funded the Master Teacher Program that provides financial support for teachers seeking Board certification and awards an annual stipend to teachers who achieve it.
  • In Alabama, legislators are allocating funding to Inservice Centers across the state to provide teachers with exemplars of accomplished teaching practice through the online ATLAS platform, to facilitate teacher conversations around accomplished teaching practice in a variety of settings, as well as to support candidates for Board certification.
  • Legislators in West Virginia and Hawaii are using financial incentives to boost the number of Board-certified teachers in high-need schools.
  • In New Mexico, Board-certification is a pathway to pursuing positions in school administration.
  • Nevada created the Great Teaching and Leading Fund, which is being used in Clark County (Las Vegas) to support cohorts of teachers in high-need schools to pursue Board certification.

Research Reinforces Value of Board Certification

Two research reports released in March 2015 provided further evidence that, on average, the students of Board-certified teachers learn more than students in other classrooms. The two independent studies build upon more than a decade of research and reinforce the notion that Board certification is valuable in building a highly effective teaching workforce.

Through Board certification, teachers demonstrate that their practice meets the National Board’s Standards for accomplished teaching practice, which are founded on the Five Core Propositions, underscoring their commitment to advancing student achievement. Research makes clear that more accomplished teachers means better learning for students.

“Every student should have the opportunity to be taught by a Board-certified teacher. I’m excited because I know that, on a national scale and in the states where policymakers work, these advances will support teachers in helping their students learn. That’s what matters most” said Brookins.

Read part one of the 2015 State of the Board: Impacting Schools Across the Country >>