How To Get Involved with the National Board Certification For Teachers

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers a certification program commonly referred to as National Board Certification.  This certification allows educators to evaluate their teaching in terms of a nationally-created standard of what a teacher should be.  Nearly 50,000 teachers have been certified since the program's creation, and more join the process every day.  If you would like to join the ranks of National Board Certified teachers, here's how to get involved:       

  1. Determine your eligibility.  You are eligible for National Board Certification if you have a Bachelor's degree and have taught for three full years with a valid state teaching license.  If you are teaching in a school where a license is not required, your school must be approved by the state.  

  • Select a certification area.  Certifications are available in the following subjects:

    Art
    Career and Technical Education
    English as a New Language
    English Language Arts
    Exceptional Needs Specialist
    Generalist
    Library Media
    Literacy: Reading - Language Arts
    Mathematics
    Music
    School Counseling
    Science
    Social Studies - History
    Physical Education
    World Languages Other than English  

    Many of these certification areas are further divided into age categories:

    Early Childhood for those teaching ages 3-8
    Middle Childhood for those teaching ages 7-12
    Early & Middle Childhood for those teaching ages 3-12
    Early Childhood through Young Adulthood for those teaching ages 3-18
    Early Adolescence for those teaching ages 11-15
    Adolescence and Young Adulthood for those teaching ages 14-18
    Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood for those teaching ages 11-18  

  • Learn the requirements.  The first step in applying for National Board Certification is to assemble four portfolio entries.  One should incorporate student work, two require videotaped evidence of your work in the classroom, and the fourth is meant to showcase your involvement in areas outside of the classroom that affect the learning of your students.   

    After completing your portfolio, you must visit one of over 300 assessment centers to complete an online assessment.  You will be given six exercises related to your content area, and you will have 30 minutes to complete each prompt.   

  • Make a commitment.  Completing the certification process can take up to three years, so it isn't a commitment to be entered into lightly.  Think about why you want to achieve this goal and promise yourself you will stick with it until the very end.  
  • Find a support network.  National Board Certification can be a stressful, time-consuming and grueling process.  A support network will be invaluable in helping you make it through the tough times.  You will need support on both a personal and professional level.  Whether you're asking your spouse to take the kids to a movie so you can concentrate or asking a veteran teacher to look over an essay, don't be afraid to reach out for help.   

    You can enlist the aid of friends and family members by sitting down with them and explaining the extensive work you will be doing and how they might be able to help you in your pursuit.  While you can turn to your colleagues for assistance on the professional side, you should also head online to find forums and email discussion groups centered on National Board Certification.   

  • Secure funding.  The assessment fee for the 2006-2007 school year is $2500.  National Board Certification certainly isn't cheap, but the opportunity for personal advancement can be priceless.  First, check with your school district for available professional development funds.  Some schools will provide assistance in the interest of being able to tout the fact that they employ "National Board-certified teachers."  If your school reimburses teachers for graduate school tuition, you may be able to convince administrators that this is a similar endeavor.  If funds aren't available from your school, the National Board Scholarship Program offers assistance from corporate sponsors.  If you can't secure outside funding, you will have to tap into your savings, tighten your budget, or apply for a loan. 
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