Prestigious teacher program successful,
reaching critical juncture

March 22, 2001

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 Springfield - The number of Illinois teachers pursuing certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is rising significantly -- just as a study shows for the first time that NBPTS-certified teachers do a better job educating students than other teachers who sought but did not achieve National Board certification.

The State Board of Education today heard an update of the program’s success at its monthly meeting.

The program is at a critical juncture because of its exciting, but unexpected growth and the research showing the effectiveness of NBPTS certification on teaching. The State Board directed staff to present a report in September setting clear goals for the program, outlining ways to measure its impact and increase the number of NBPTS-certified teachers.

The number of Illinois teachers participating in and earning certification through NBPTS has grown significantly in each of the last two years. About 435 teachers are seeking NBPTS certification this year, up from 180 the year before. In 2000, 98 teachers successfully completed the rigorous NBPTS requirements - a 111 percent jump over the 88 total teachers certified in the five previous years.

NBPTS certification is the highest teaching credential available. A 2000 study by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro showed conclusively that NBPTS-certified teachers “outperformed their non-certified counterparts on every one of 13 generally recognized measures of good teaching.” The report also says that students of NBPTS-certified teachers demonstrated a deeper understanding of the concepts they were taught.

“Teachers who achieve NBPTS certification are among the best of the best,” said State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee. “They are a critical component of our mutual efforts to give our students an education that is Second to None.

“I am also very proud that Illinois’ NBPTS program is the fastest growing in the nation,” McGee said. “That shows that our teachers want to be the very best educators they can be.”

The process to earn NBPTS certification includes sophisticated performance-based assessments measuring the teachers’ performance against the standards in their area of practice, and a detailed, portfolio analyzing elements of the teachers’ learning experience and reflecting on ways they may strengthen their practice.

Illinois now awards NBPTS-certified teachers with a Master teaching certificate and a $3,000 stipend. NBPTS-certified teachers can also get an additional $1,000 to $3,000 for mentoring other teachers, depending on where they mentor. State Board staff suggested that raising the stipend might be a way to attract qualified teachers into the program. The application fee for NBPTS certification is $2,300 per teacher. The candidates’ fees are paid through a combination of state, federal and private funds.

The State Board has conducted several workshops to help NBPTS candidates achieve certification. The workshops link NBPTS-certified teachers acting as mentors with candidates.

The State Board is also working with college and university programs that support NBPTS to help continue the program at its current high level. Several colleges and universities have done a great job in helping prepare National Board candidates, ISBE staff reported. The State Board at Thursday’s meeting discussed further collaboration with these institutions.

Additional work needs to be done to attract more minority and rural candidates to the program, as most of the state’s NBPTS teachers now are from the Chicago metropolitan area.

A 25-member NBPTS Design Team comprising key educational, governmental, union, community, professional and business partners has also recommended requiring prospective NBPTS candidates pay the initial, non-refundable $300 application fee to increase commitment on the part of prospective candidates. The State Board is still exploring the implications of this suggestion.

About 10 percent of candidates usually do not complete the yearlong NBPTS process. Illinois is one of only a small handful of states that pay a candidate’s entire fee.

State Board staff also recommended increasing publicity and marketing efforts about the program to better inform prospective candidates of the program’s rigorous requirements. State Board members also said that continued recognition of NBPTS-certified teachers for their accomplishment might also act as an incentive.

As well, the program’s overall budget may also need to be increased if the number of candidates continues to grow as it has. This year, $1.075 million was budgeted and paid primarily for the stipends for current NBPTS-certified teachers and application fees for candidates.