A Pipeline to Teaching Excellence: Teacher Effectiveness Is a Critical Focus in Our Nation, and Growing the Number of Board-Certified Teachers of Color Should Be a Priority

Article excerpt

It should be beyond dispute that the pathway to a successful career, regardless of the profession, is a strong educational foundation. A key ingredient in that foundation is the instructional knowledge, motivation and emotional support provided by effective teachers at all levels, from elementary school to college. Recognizing its vital role in maintaining our democratic society, access to an effective education should be seen as a civil right. Yet we know that quality teachers and quality schools with a strong curriculum, adequate facilities and family and community support are not consistently available to everyone in this country.

Evidence shows that teacher quality is the key determinant when it comes to measuring student success. Yet, students in high-need schools are twice as likely to have an inexperienced or unqualified teacher. The Alliance for Excellent Education, for example, has reported that many teachers who teach low-income students do not have a major or minor in the subject they teach or are likely to be inexperienced. In addition, the same students are 61 percent more likely to be assigned an unlicensed teacher.

This is why the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), an independent, national nonprofit organization that works to measure teacher performance and help teachers improve their practice, is committed to ensuring that every child has access to quality teaching, particularly in those communities that have been historically underserved.

Key to this commitment is ensuring the existence of a diverse teaching force to meet the needs of today's classrooms. As part of our diversity initiatives we are creating deeper bonds and stronger collaborations with the nation's historically Black colleges and universities.

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund is a critical element in our work with HBCUs. TMCF is actively recruiting students and graduates from its member colleges to become National Board Certified Teachers through its Teacher Quality and Retention Program. We are grateful that TMCF has taken an active role in building a pipeline of teachers to go through the National Board Certification process, an extensive yearlong experience in which teachers examine their practice against a set of national standards. The pipeline that TMCF has created offers teachers a path toward accomplished practice and leadership opportunities.

In 2009, NBPTS and the White House Initiative on HBCUs co-sponsored a forum as part of a national strategy to increase the number of HBCU graduates who enter the teaching profession and ultimately pursue National Board Certification. During the forum, U. …