National Board Certification Physical Education Teachers

By Houston, Jennifer; Kulinna, Pamela Hodges | Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, May-June 2013 | Go to article overview
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National Board Certification Physical Education Teachers


Houston, Jennifer, Kulinna, Pamela Hodges, Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators


The nonprofit National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) was founded in 1987 and grew out of the up-and-coming belief that teachers were a key factor in improving student achievement and that the profession needed a way to recognize and reward exemplary classroom teachers (Vandevoort, Amrein-Beardsley, & Berliner, 2004). The journey, however, actually began in 1985 when Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, suggested the organization of a national teacher standards and evaluation board. Following Shanker's recommendation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York funded the establishment of NBPTS following further recommendations from the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy's Task Force on Teaching as a Profession. The task force's final report, "A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century," was released on May 15, 1986, and called for the creation of a board to "define what teachers should know and be able to do" (NBPTS, 2011). A planning group, which later evolved into the NBPTS Board of Directors, made the important decisions about the direction and structure of the new organization. Chaired by former North Carolina Gov. James B. Hunt, Jr., the group agreed that the majority of the board members be teachers currently working in K-12 classrooms.

The mission of NBPTS has three parts: (a) to establish high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do; (b) to develop and operate a national, voluntary system to assess and certify teachers who meet these standards and; (c) advance related education reforms for the purpose of improving student learning in American schools (NBPTS, 2011). National Standards (for NBPTS) in the area of physical education were not published until 1999. At last count, there were more than 91,000 national board-certified teachers (NBCTs) across all certificate areas nationwide, with approximately 1,700 of those in the area of physical education (NBPTS, 2011). The purpose of this article is to advocate for the advancement of physical education and physical education teachers through national board certification (NBC).

In 1987, the NBPTS published a set of policy statements, the Five Core Propositions, which formed a framework from which all of the standards evolved. These core propositions have been incorporated into teacher quality initiatives at all levels of teacher education, and they have become the industry standard for the education profession (Berg, 2003). These propositions identify the values, beliefs, and assumptions that underlie quality teaching: (a) Teachers are committed to students and their learning, (b) teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students, (c) teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning, (d) teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience, and (e) teachers are members of learning communities. Although these propositions are the common themes of accomplished teaching, the certificate area standards provide the depth and breadth of understanding for teaching in a particular subject area at a particular developmental level (NBPTS, 2011).

The NBPTS system of standards and certification has changed the teaching discourse within the profession by setting and gaining acceptance of its high standards (Boyd & Reese, 2006). Because physical education is a wide-ranging and complex field, it should influence and involve learning in other academic areas. Accomplished physical education teachers provide students of all abilities and interests with a foundation of movement experiences designed to help them lead active and healthy lifestyles well after graduation from high school. What differentiates the requirements of a highly qualified teacher as defined by No Child Left Behind (NCLB) from the definitions of an accomplished teacher as defined by NBPTS is the ability and requirement to evidence this type of work in their teaching environment (NBPTS, 2011).

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