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NBPTS Teachers Grow in Record Numbers

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National-board teachers have gained a weighty reputation over the years, and many states now offer teachers who go through the rigorous process to get the credential attractive bonuses. Not surprising then that the numbers of board-certified teachers continues to grow each year.

In its latest figures released this week, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards says 9,600 teachers achieved board certification in 2008: a 12 percent increase over 2007 and a record high. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia had at least a 20 percent increase from 2007 to 2008 in the number of teachers who became board-certified.

According to the NBPTS, the number of teachers achieving the credential has more than doubled in the past five years, from more than 32,000 in 2003 to nearly 74,000 in 2008. And states with the highest number of teachers achieving national-board certification were Florida with 1,826 teachers, North Carolina with 1,453, Washington with 918, South Carolina with 754, and Illinois with 703.

The credential seems especially popular in the Carolinas: In North Carolina now, 15 percent of the total teaching force has the credential. In South Carolina, 14 percent does. Interestingly, South Carolina had last year considered axing bonuses for board-certified teachers, although the proposal was later shelved.

While even teachers' unions back increased pay for board-certified teachers as a form of merit pay, the jury never has been unequivocal on how effective these teachers are. A long-awaited report from the National Research Council earlier this year found that board-certified teachers are more effective, but the committee struggled over the question of whether the test-score impact, which had an overall effect size of .04 for studies of students in Florida and North Carolina, should be characterized as "small" or "as large as possible."

An earlier study, released in 2006, found that board-certified teachers were actually no more effective than their counterparts who did not have the credential.

1 Comment

Even if there were an objective and accurate way to measure teacher effectiveness, there are good reasons to shun the concept of merit pay.

Here's one perspective posted on a http://www.teachers.net/mentors forum during a discussion about merit pay.

If you've ever worked in a district that has merit pay, I can tell you that the laziest teachers in the district are in the "high rent district" areas, and they are paid the most because those kids learn in spite of everything. The new teachers always begin in the "ghetto" schools and work their tails off, usually beating their heads against the wall. Before my husband was transferred here, I worked in a high achieving school. Thus, I was paid more, but always felt sorry for the teachers who worked their tails off in the inner city schools, and were compensated less for their efforts.

As a former teacher, I cannot imagine and have not seen a merit pay system that would have the intended effect of improving instruction; rather, I believe there is an overall negative effect connected to merit pay.

Putting teachers in the position of competing for merit pay (and surely, there would be competition for limited dollars) encourages individual teachers to develop but not share successful lessons and teaching strategies. Rather than feeling encouraged to share expertise and ideas, teachers would be incentivized to protect as marketable intellectual property the very talent we should be encouraging them to share. In a field where the spreading of ideas, expertise, outstanding lessons and resources is crucial to the success of students, merit pay encourages a sense of competition and individual ownership of ideas that need to be disseminated.

We need to invest the money and effort into better support for new teachers, and to re-train or cull ineffective teachers, not set up a system that encourages individuals to hoard their good ideas and best practices.

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