This article appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of The Classroom Teacher.
Three hundred and twenty-seven National Board-certified teachers were automatically awarded Recognized status in 2019-20 through TEA's Teacher Incentive Allotment program, generating anywhere from $3,000 to $9,000 for their district (the amount depends on the socioeconomic status of the students and the campus’ rural status).
Among them is TCTA member David Walker, a science teacher at LASA High School in Austin ISD, who earned National Board Certification in 2017. Walker talked about the certification process during a session at TCTA’s 2021 Virtual Convention in February, saying there are many reasons to pursue certification, “from helping your teaching practice, to helping your students, to actually getting more money from both the state and your school district potentially.” (Go to members.tcta.org and log in to view the session recording and earn 1.5 hours of CPE credit.)
Since 1987, the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards has certified teachers who demonstrate that they can meet and maintain high and rigorous standards for the profession. There are five core propositions:
“A large part of becoming National Board certified is obtaining a lot more information about who your students are and what their needs are,” Walker said.
To apply, teachers must hold a bachelor’s degree and have at least three years of teaching experience in the subject area for which they are seeking certification. Walker said applicants are put into cohorts and must complete objectives in four component areas within three years to earn certification:
The process requires testing, videos and written components, along with a portfolio. He said the process showed him that he was already a good teacher, meeting many of the standards the National Board requires. But it also helped him identify areas to improve and forced him to analyze why he taught lessons a certain way.
“Overall, it really helped my practice,” he said. “I had fallen into kind of a cycle of repeat when I was pursuing this. ... Every year, we are busy with a lot of other things in our lives, and so it’s very easy to say, ‘I’m just going to teach the same stuff next year. Sweet.’
“But (National Board certification) helped me not be satisfied with that, and it really motivated me as part of finishing the certification program to dig into my teaching and think about how to improve it,” he said.
Walker is currently working on recertification. Once every five years, two of the four component areas must be completed again.
Nationally, about 3% of teachers are National Board certified, but only about 0.3% of Texas teachers held certification as of 2019. That number is rising with the TIA program.
Three hundred more National Board teachers are expected to earn designations in 2020-21 in Texas. However, to automatically receive the designation, NBCTs need to make sure they have registered with a Texas address in the NBCT directory.
TEA also offers NBCT fee reimbursement. These funds can be used to reimburse even those teachers who received National Board Certification in the 2019-20 school year.