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Certification Pays Off


The number of Washington state teachers applying for national certification doubled this year after the legislature increased annual stipends. If teachers, upon certification, opt to work in one of the state's low-income schools, they will be eligible for an extra $5,000 per year. West Virginia has implemented a similar increase in stipends for teachers who pass the time-consuming and difficult test.

Do you feel your state's stipend is fair? Is a salary increase worth the time invested in becoming National Board certified? What other motives are there, besides a higher salary, for being certified?


I offer this question...why specify only those schools deemed "at risk" to fund NTBC? If the rigor is equally high for those attending "high performing" schools as well as those lower achieving schools, will our high achieving students benefit from Nationally Certified teachers? It appears that to incent teachers to enter "at risk" schools, the policy is to provide a form of "combat pay" to encourage school personnel within these school populations. What about those faculty who choose not to participate in these identifical school populations? Does the absence of Board Certification deem those faculty as deficient compared to those within the school who opt for the program? What happens to those who wish to participate from "passing" schools for other reasons other than fiscal gains?

This makes sense to me. What about those who want Board Certification just to improve their teaching skills and not for the purpose of going into poor performing schools?

Arkansas offers the $5,ooo stipend for all NBCT directly working with students and/or their instructors. Yes, going through the process was well worth the year of my life I compromised. Forcing me to take a very close look at my teaching and its effects on the students helps me to daily to use the best instructional practices in the classroom. The money comes at Christmas time, what a plus!

National Board Certification is another step in taking the quality of educators out of the hands of the educators and putting them in the hands of the testing industry. Credentialed teachers have been through a process that deals with the teaching of children. Why should a credentialed teacher be required to pay $2500 to get further certification? With National Board Certification in place, a door is open to eliminate the most important part of teaching - relating to students.
The National Certification will be making those who take tests well as the best teachers and that is a false concept, so it can not possibly improve student learning. Financially it is an investment for some teachers to get more money. There is certainly nothing wrong with that, but
giving teachers tests is adding more tests to an
already saturated test environment. Tests can show what teachers know, but they can't show anything about how they teach.

I have been an educator for 16 years, and have seen many NBC teachers come and go - many let go because they have been very poor teachers. Because you have this certification does not make you a better teacher, it just means you have more credits, and another credential to put on your certificate.

National Board Certification is a rigorous program. I was certified in 2004. It took me two long years of refletive practices, very hard work, and my students benefited from it. I do not think it should be mandated, though. I only get $1,000 a year extra from my district, not the state. Although I wish I got it from the state too.

I received certification in 1999. The state of Mississippi reimbursed me for the cost of completing the certification process once I offered proof that I had completed the process. After certification, we get an additional $6000 each year for 10 years. The money wasa the most alluring part when I began the process, but it wasn't long before I realized how much the process made me a better teacher, with or without the additional money. (The money is nice though.)

The National Board process is not about testing teachers. It is about teachers testing themselves- pushing themselves to question their instruction and the learning that goes on in their classrooms. The self-reflection that is inherent in the process is what makes us better teachers. Does having certification make me a better teacher? Not if I quit looking at my practice. Certification was one part of my continual effort to improve as an instructor- not the only part.

Hi Randy,

I am still thinking of a nice reply to this pretty important debate but in the meantime let just drop you a word.
I will respond to three statements you made in your post.
1)You mentioned that the money is worth the time(1yr)that you sacrificed.
First of all, improving your craft is your loyal duty--much less a choice. With all due respect, is teaching your career of choice or just a job? I am a professional educator and a certified Electrical Engineer but I value teaching way more.

2)Your second statement is that the money comes around Xmas time.
Considering the time value of money and the hype about holidays do you think that money is worth a great deal? The true spirit of Xmas has nothing to do with buying gifts for everybody or buying unnecessary items. From the prospective of the ones who forced you to take the test, the money serves its purpose since it gives you a sense of accomplishment that validates any decision you'd make about how you'd spend that money. After all, aren't they the ones who own the businesses? :{)

3)Finally, you stated that you're forced to evaluate your teaching?
Teaching is so degrading and irrelevant that you don't think fit to cast a critical eye on your performance? You, therefore, be coerced to evaluate yourself?
For teachers specializing in Curriculum & Instruction(C & I), here is what one of the thing that I teach them: The ADDIE model.
A----> Analysis: they have to analyze the learner's needs.
D---->Design: based on their diagnosis(ses, they have to design lesson units able to meet those needs.
D----> Development: they have to development unit lesson or course taking into consideration the worse case scenario (learner without prerequisites).
I----> Implementation: they have to enact the lessons that developed; they're actually pilot teaching the lesson(s).
E----> Evaluation: they have to look back and reflect on the lesson(s), the learner, and themselves. Based on that evaluation they can tell what went wrong with the lesson(s) and why. There's always room for improvement. The students are not always wrong, we oftentimes are to be blamed.
Actually, how many teachers really follow the ADDIE model?
Another important model is the ASSURE model. I would encourage everyone--teachers, trainers, administrators--to research those model to see if they can find some wisdom within them.
As for you Randy, I firmly believe that you have good intention but the euphoria of the moment caused you to mis-convey your thoughts.

Final thought: The internet--TalkBack--could be a great tools to those who really want to learn what true eduction is all about. Just as they have standardized tests for students, also do they have standardized tests for teachers and other professionals. If for students the scores translate into admission to a Top-Notch or Ivy League School, for teachers the scores translate into an annual stipend. Is that what we call being competitive? Is that what we call being self-actualized? Is that the message we really want to send to the next generation? When is this rat race going to be over?

Of course there is nothing inherently wrong with certification, but at a time when sanctions are being placed on schools, and children are being asked to perform like trained monkeys, and parents are being asked to volunteer many hours teaching and raising money for their children's schools, asking teachers to dedicate hours of their time to work on certification for more money seems to me to be throwing a wrench into the whole process called education. We are getting rid of teacher's tenure in all of this which was put in place to take the politics out of the classroom and keep a stable school staff that could work together for the good of the children. To those teachers who are nationally certified good for them, but now some are finding that does not mean they are HQT (highly qualified teachers) under the NCLB Act. Figure that one out!

There seems to still be a misunderstanding about what the National Board process is. People try to simply define it as one thing or another, when in fact it's a complex process with multiple purposes. Of course there are going to be exceptions, as there are in any aspect of any profession, but for the most part, national board certified teachers are people who take pride in their profession and accept the challenge of seeing whether they live up to rigorous national standards. I would say that going through the process helped me become a better teacher, but I had to be pretty competent to start out with in order to get through the process successfully.

In Washington (and I am from Washington), there is a set incentive for all NBCTs of $5000. There is an ADDITIONAL incentive of $5000 for NBCTs in schools with 70% or more free and reduced lunch. So every NBCT, regardless of where they choose to teach in the public sector, receives a stipend. The fact is that it is notoriously difficult to hire the best teachers at high risk schools where the challenges are greater and the rewards fewer. I work in such a school, and I know that I spend close to the stipend amount buying supplies for my classroom that the school can't afford. Unfortunately, my school is only at 67% free and reduced, so I won't get the additional money.

In reference to National Teacher Certification - overall this is a great idea. Unfortunately teachers have yet to receive the RESPECT they are do in the United States. Just think about this for a moment, teachers that pass the National certification and agree to work in inner city school receives stipends in some states - this is great. As far I know here in Texas that's not the case. What I propose to you is this - WHY DOES IT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE SOMETHING THAT WE (THE TEACHERS) MUST DO IN ORDER TO GET A FEW MORE BUCKS IN OUR POCKET? Let us begin a conversation regarding the profession itself. How do we retain teachers, how do we return teachers on an equal basis, how do we retain 1st year teachers who become overwhelmed with the many responsibilities that this profession entails? These are some of the questions we, as a profession needs to focus on. To all that took the time to become Nationallly certified - congratulation, to those considering this option -thank you and for those of us that doesn't feel that there is enough time in the day to do this then I say to you OK.

The question should be about teachers preparation program. What do our teachers need to know in order to teach? How should they demonstrate what they know? To whom should they demonstrate it? Can we really talk about national standards?

I wanted to stand out of the discussion this week but from what I read here, I believe that we must engage in a more serious conversation. How rigorous are teachers' training programs? How relevant is the content? Should teachers take more method courses or more subject matter courses?
As long as teachers don't have a say in curriculum matter and policy-making we should not expect teachers to be treated according to their worth. The insult comes from policy-makers when they ask us to be certified. Their point is that, though we obtained a degree in education they don't believe we earned it? They don't even trust the very schools that they created, funded, and maintained. So before we ask them rightful questions, they start asking us questions. Ironically enough, we are so busy answering their questions that we don't even think about questioning them! If we design our own process to them, would they pass as we pass theirs? I doubt it! They simply sit atop mount Olympus and run their mouth. That's they're good at! Don't take my word for it! Try them!

Those who believe that certification opens their eyes are even more blind that they were before. For all those practices to make sense, they have to provide us with poor quality training programs. Don't take my word for it, consult with Arthur Levine, ex-president of Teachers College at Columbia University.

stand out of..---> stay out of..
process to them...---> process to test them..
That's they're...---> that's all they're...

Think they can pass our certification process?

Once a principal invited to an interview for a math position. During the interview she ask how I would solve a couple of quadratic equations and graph a few rational functions. I simply looked at her and told her everything we wanted to know. After that I asked her if she could factor the expression (a-b)--not (a-b)2 (squared; the format can't be reproduced here.) That was the biggest mess I have seen in my entire life, though she was a math teacher herself.
I encourage you to engage in that little process whenever someone ask you to prove yourself. It's fun!

Some of the best and some of the worst teachers I know are certified, but they all think that they are "all that and a bag of chips." The year that they are working on it is a compromised year for their students and their families. Most will even admit that it was a terrible teaching year! THEN, in our state, they get financially rewarded for several years--I think it's ten years. FOR WHAT? Nothing additional is required of them, yet they are rewarded and lauded. Most of them will tell you they did it for the money. This certification even helps teachers in our state's teacher of the year process! For those of us with MANY YEARS of service or those of us who have already retired (but continue to teach), getting this certification makes little sense in any direction. Yet the NBCT teachers continue to be raised up above teachers with advanced degrees, wisdom, and exceptional teaching skills. I don't know what the answer is, but paying these teachers long term rewards seems excessive and I don't believe that children are getting the return for the money spent!

Typo-Mistakes in "Think they can pass our certification":

invited to---> invited me* to
she ask how--> she asked* me* how

I obtained my National Board Certification in Florida, a state that expects its NBCTs to lead, mentor, and excel as teachers and pays accordingly. I moved to Georgia where many principals don't even know what an NBCT is and where the state legislature has decided to move in a different direction for encouraging teachers to stretch. New NBCTs no longer receive incentive pay unless they work in "needs improvement" schools and the state is investing in a home grown "master teacher" program that perpetuates the state's already stellar standards in education.

The number of Georgia candidates for NBC dropped last year and I would expect a further drop this year. Although teachers are dedicated, they aren't financial dummies. Those who want incentive pay are now choosing to earn master's degrees, with tuition assistance from the state. Having a master's and almost a Ph.D., I can say that for me neither taught me as much about teaching or had a greater positive impact on my pedagogy than the NBCT process.

As is too often the case, there are statements here about the NBC process and its benefits made by people who DID NOT go through the process. Passing judgment on something you've neither attempted nor investigated is simply a demonstration of ignorance.

I received my NBC six years ago, and therefore am qualified to submit my perspective on the original posted questions and will comment on some of the responses.

** It wasn't a compromised year for my students as someone suggested - they felt like an important part of the process.
** It didn't affect my family any more than any other endeavor I undertake (like GT certification or Master's) because I work hard at all I do.
** A major component is knowing the students as individual and learners!
** This isn't a "standardized test" that allows good "test-takers" to be successful; however, if you are not a reflective or introspective person or you are a poor writer, it is less likely you'll receive the certification.
** Our profession is one that is not self-governed or self-funded (such as the law or medicine) so we are largely unable to affect our own salary through expertise or leadership. A teacher can be better in all ways than an apathetic neighbor, but if the education level and years of experience are equal, the salary is the same for considerably more work. However, when we went into teaching, we KNEW we weren't going to be paid well. One must love teaching or be committed to improvement of their community to stay in the classroom and remain effective. Generally, under the current system, if one wants to increase one's salary, one must achieve higher degrees or seek NBC. Having experienced both, and currently seeking another degree, I can tell you that the NBC process was a smart financial investment ($7,500/year salary increase and no geographical limitations), AND it most definitely positively affected my teaching more than any other method I've employed.
** In response to comments from Deanna: In my state tenure doesn't exist, and NBC does apply to meeting HQ. Since education is supposed to belong to the states to legislate, we find vastly different practices across the country. However, many of our practices in education are in direct response to federal mandates made by non-educators. How in the world did that happen?!

And Prof Alcide, I don't think the rat race will EVER be over - I'm pretty sure it isn't a race, but instead we are stuck on one of those exercise wheels! :-)

Back to the great original question: Should a teacher receive extra pay for a certain certification and certain teaching venues? I suggest no and yes.

In the spirit of comity, school teaching is about student learning first and finally. It's student performance increases that should yield bonuses to teachers, not teachers gathering more certificates or professional development credits or degrees. Let's apply conventional teacher grading systems to teacher's students' measured (minimum) academic performance.

Lead a classroom of students to meet minimum state standards and receive a "C" grade for your year's teaching - you earned your salary. Exceed minimum state standards and receive a "B" grade for that year's teaching - congratulations, now we'll watch to see if you will do the same next year. Have average student scores across the class in the 90th percentile or higher and receive an "A-" - let's talk about teacher performance bonuses.

Professor, do you think more targeted teacher preparation in practical applications of empirical and experimental learning research principles seems appropriate? It has existed in professional literature for decades without systematic, objective replacement. How many teacher prep faculty do you think can help teachers learn to use those principles?

Hello Bob,

I command you for your position on teachers' performance recognition. What is in the literature is inter-subjective--conventionally agreed upon. Now what teachers should do is to engage in Action Research. This is a great method to improve teaching and learning. The purpose of teaching is learning and the purpose of learning is learning how to learn!

Because education is in the transition from being an art to being a science, and because it hasn't been accepted and respected as a profession, we have lost a great deal of excellent faculty to the industry and other fields. We still have a number of excellent whose expertise are beyond value but who makes the policy decisions? Why?
I hope we maintain that correspondence.

Respectfully, thank you for engaging the dialog.

In order to receive intial certification in Early Childhood, teachers have an extensive amount of coursework. Why is it that teachers now in order to be effective need to complete National Boards. Yes, the process does may you reflect on your teaching. But, teachers who do not go through the process may be refelctive teachers as well. Yet, in order to receive any additional salary which may take a step closer to the "professional" category. We jump to yet another measurement of testing. However, this time the testing is of teachers!

All good teachers take classes and workshops to improve their teaching and their salaries. That is not a new concept. I may be just a bit suspicious, but when the federal government wants to set the guidelines for the best teachers by controlling the standards according to their specifications, I begin to wonder if indoctrination may not enter the picture. Educators come from many different schools of education and that is not a bad thing, in my opinion. Teachers should be able to use their own unique styles in the classroom and that is what makes them inspiring to students. Who evaluates the process that the teachers go through to earn this certification? Teachers would have to do whatever was asked of them in order to earn this certification and do we even know the qualifications of the boards that make the final decisions. Earning a credential at a college or university has transparency. I do not say this to put down anyone who earned this certification, but I also do not automatically give them any high position on the teaching ladder when I have none of the above imformation.

To Deanna,

Hello Deanna, I couldn't agree more with you. I don't know if you've read all the posts but here's one that I wrote above:

"Think they can pass our certification process?

Once a principal invited me to an interview for a math position. During the interview she asked me how I would solve a couple of quadratic equations and graph a few rational functions. I simply looked at her and told her everything she wanted to know. After that I asked her if she could factor the expression (a-b)--not (a-b)2 (squared; the format can't be reproduced here.) She couldn't. That was the biggest mess I have ever seen in my entire life, though she was a math teacher herself.
I encourage you to engage in that little process(Test the tester, LOL!) whenever someone ask you to prove yourself. It's fun!"

To Prof. Alcide, Your kind of spark is what is being lost in education. Thanks for sending it.

I am a NBPTS teacher. I do receive a stipend from the state of Ohio for this achievement. I do not receive one from my district.

DO NOT go through the NBPTS for monetary gain! This process is amazing and will guide you to a new level of teaching. You will become a reflective teacher always searching and experimenting with pedagogy to meet the needs of your students. You will become a more confident and proficient educator. You will discover you still have a lot to learn as a teacher. You will learn to bypass some of the daily frustrations of teaching to keep you eye on the real goal - STUDENTS! Teachers are providers of service. Nothing more, nothing less. This process helps teachers stay focused on the services they are to provide.

I'd go through the process again be there stipend pay or not. After 23 years of teaching, it was challenging and refreshing to reflect, question, and modify my pedagogy. In fact, I think if more districts provide a stipend, less NBPTS candidates will go through the process for professional reasons and more will attempt it merely for the monetary gains.

Geri, There you have it! (Teachers are providers of service. Nothing more, nothing less.) That is the limited thinking that this certification can instill in teachers after it's process has told them who they must be in the classroom.

Teachers must be more than service providers to inspire students. They must share their enthusiasm for what they teach, and give students the desire to make their own learning discoveries.
I'm sure you are an open person, who would benefit from any educational program that gave you new ideas and methods of evaluating your teaching, but calling you a service provider is the first step in eliminating you to some form of technology that can replace you as a more efficient service provider. Inspiring your students is the focus, and only human contact can do that effectuvely.

I completed my Master's in Education last fall and gained some increase in salary because of the extra credentials. I LOVE learning, and have considered becoming involved in the NBCT process several times. I do not have any money available at this time to invest in the process, and the financial reimbursement in my small school district is not any incentive. Several respondents have said that those who have never been through the process have no business criticizing it, and they are right. However, I have so many demands on my time at this point that I do not have energy remaining to go through another program. I also think that my Master's program was very intensive and showed me how to do the same things that it sounds as if the NBCT does: diagnose needs of the students, prepare/teach/evaluate lessons I have taught, and continually improve myself. I got my Master's thinking that it would not only improve my salary but my skills, and it has to some extent, but the professional/mental benefits far outweighed the financial gains. In my opinion, begining any strenuous program like national certification is one you should think carefully about and commit yourself to if you believe it is the right plan for you.

No one should ever think that they are better than another teacher because they have had more training! That entirely defeats the purpose of life and education, in my opinion. Just as I had reasons for beginning and completing my Master's degree, everyone has reasons for their professional choices. We should never judge someone because they did or did not complete a specific course of action which WE think is necessary. I am learning more and more in life that I am not responsible to pronounce judgement on anyone else's motives or actions until I have "walked a mile in their shoes!" I do not want this discourtesy bestowed upon me, so I try to give everyone else the benefit of the doubt. Yes, we may judge someone by the things we see them doing, or the results of something they have done, but we all want mercy in our lives and need to give it in return.

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • Martha Ray/Special Education teacher: I completed my Master's in Education last fall and gained read more
  • Deanna Enos/Author Nobody Left Behind One Child's Story About Testing: Geri, There you have it! (Teachers are providers of service. read more
  • Geri, Intervention Specialist: I am a NBPTS teacher. I do receive a stipend read more
  • Deanna Enos/ Nobody Left Behind One Child's Story About Testing: To Prof. Alcide, Your kind of spark is what is read more
  • Prof. Alcide, Phil J.: To Deanna, Hello Deanna, I couldn't agree more with you. read more




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