Another Tool for School Reform

By Extrom, Michelle | State Legislatures, April 2011 | Go to article overview

Another Tool for School Reform


Extrom, Michelle, State Legislatures


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One of the great challenges facing state lawmakers is balancing cuts to education budgets with the need to close the achievement gap and turn around low-performing schools.

One popular approach legislators in 30 states and the District of Columbia have signed on--is supporting National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification for teachers. The voluntary program, which is based on advanced teaching standards and a rigorous assessment process, has been around since 1987. Recently, however, more policymakers, teachers and school leaders are recognizing its promise and potential for addressing challenges in today's classrooms.

"Reforming education requires a multifaceted approach that includes school leadership, community involvement, safe campuses, rigorous curricula and common core standards," says Hawaii Representative Roy

Takumi. "It also requires highly effective classroom teachers, and national board certification is one way to achieve this goal."

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More than 91,000 teachers are certified by the board, or a little less than 3 percent of all public school teachers. California, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Washington are the states with the most certified teachers.

These board certifications are being used as a turn-around strategy to improve teaching and learning in low-performing schools. Struggling districts and schools from California to Maryland and Arizona to Illinois are supporting their top teachers through the certification process and hiring board-certified teachers when possible to fill vacant positions. These teachers have met high standards through study, expert evaluation, self-assessment, a subject knowledge test and peer review. Education experts believe these teachers will improve student learning and become leaders in their schools.

Schools districts are finding this strategy makes a difference.

Students taught by certified teachers make higher gains on achievement tests than those taught by non-certified teachers, and the certified teachers also stay longer in the classroom than their non-certified peers, according to a report by the National Research Council of the National Academies.

A REFORM TOOL

The board-certification approach also has become central to discussions on how best to define and evaluate effective teaching. Since many states are grappling with implementing educational reform legislation passed in 2010 and federal Race to the Top awards, some top researchers say the key elements used for board certification should become criteria in a new teacher evaluation system. …

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Another Tool for School Reform
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