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New National-Board Certifications Still Declining

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards announced this week that 4,117 teachers received certification from the group in 2013—down 17 percent from the previous year and more than 50 percent from 2008.

Washington state had the most new certifications in 2013 with 516. New Hampshire was the only state this year with no teachers attaining the prestigious credential.

The drop in new certifications continues even as the organization is seeking to increase its influence in the field. Ronald Thorpe, who took over as president of NBPTS in 2011, has said he hopes to make National Board certification an industry standard, much like board-certification in the medical field. The group cites 2012 research from Harvard University showing that Los Angeles students taught by NBCTs outperformed their peers on standardized tests in math and language arts. 

But the organization has hit some roadblocks over the last few years, including states scaling back financial incentives for teachers to earn National-Board certification and a growing policy emphasis on student achievement rather than professional credentials.

In September, NBPTS announced that it plans to implement several changes for the 2014-15 year, including decreasing the $2,500 application fee by $600, giving teachers more flexibility in completing required assessments, and incorporating information such as student surveys and measures of student academic progress into the certification process. 

When asked about the 2013 certification decline, Thorpe wrote in an email, "We are rolling out the new process in the spring and anticipate many more teachers will pursue Board certification ... .  Although it's impossible to know precisely why we saw a drop in 2013, I suspect much of it can be explained by our announcement and teachers' eagerness to explore the new certification process."

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