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A Message Amid the Hubbub


Barnett Berry of "Building the Teaching Profession" says although the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards' teacher certification is not a sure-fire way to ensure student achievement, many ideas advocated by the teacher network ring true.

One message in particular, Berry says, is of rethinking education in light of the "technologically-infused, knowledge-intensive global economy," adding that "new demands are placed on the 21st century worker and citizen and the schools that prepare them."

In addition, Berry suggests teachers need to re-assess students based on a new, more appropriate skill set as encouraged by the NBPTS.

One NBPTS certified teacher agrees:

I had to refocus not on what I wanted the students to learn, but rather what the students needed to know […] I also noticed that while my lessons were well-planned, my assessments were not. I lacked authentic student self-assessment and consistent evaluation measures.

The merit of board certification for teachers fuels a hot debate. Let’s, for a moment, look beyond this debate and turn our attention toward the philosophies championed by this certification board. Maybe that should be the real focus?


National Board Certification is a standards-based assessment. Before NBPTS could change any of the assessments to reflect a "new, more appropriate skill set" they would have to change the standards. Which, in fact, the National Board does, on a continuous cycle. Right now, they're re-writing the Exceptional Needs standards to reflect new thinking and practice in that field--and if assessments were to change, they would reflect that new thinking.

Most National Board Certificates and standards been revised in the past few years--and the big changes in the last revision were around including providing greater evidence of meeting needs of a more diverse student population--and around integrating technology seamlessly into classroom practice. Both are related to 21st Century work and learning.

In the cited quote above, it seems that the NBCT's professional development was real--s/he learned, through interaction with the standards and examining classroom practice and student work products, how to improve assessments to yield better data and encourage self-evaluation by students. Those are two very concrete and important benefits of the process--and important, future-focused skills as well.

Brian Freedman's comment on the "philosophies promulgated by this certification board" is confusing. The National Board's theoretical framework and standards for all teaching fields (plus descriptors for all of the practical and content-test assessments)are readily accessible at:


They're not a mystery.

This is a sad question to even research. I had to take seven subject essays, work hard to develop a portfolio, create two media excerpts from my teaching practice; both exploratory, and coopertive lessons, and edit/publish communications work, to get my Naional Boards in Social Science. If this process did not make me a better teacher, I do not know what would! National Boards forces a teacher to anaylize what they are teaching... and asks "WHY" you use the tools and strategies within your class. The program is so difficult, only about 42% pass their boards on the first attempt. It is ridiculous to think Naional Board Teachers do not enhance learning, or become more efficient educators. How silly a debate. Oh, and what purpose is the debate? I mean, think about it! Any process that improves or ehances a teachers skills is for the greater good. We are here to serve our nations children; so any attempt to improve our practice should be a respected venture.

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