The Benefits of Pursuing National Board Certification for Physical Education Teachers: Achieving Certification Can Increase Your Confidence, Credibility, and Professional Opportunities

By Gaudreault, Karen Lux; Woods, Amelia M. | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, October 2012 | Go to article overview

The Benefits of Pursuing National Board Certification for Physical Education Teachers: Achieving Certification Can Increase Your Confidence, Credibility, and Professional Opportunities


Gaudreault, Karen Lux, Woods, Amelia M., JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


"National Boards has made me a better teacher. It has made me a better collaborator and mentor" (Sandy).

"I feel acknowledged, and I feel good about what I did and the kind of teacher I am. Getting National Boards gave me a kind of confidence that I would never have had" (Mike).

These expressions reflect the sentiments that physical education teachers share when they describe the experience of achieving National Board Certification (NBC). Completing the necessary requirements for NBC can take hundreds of hours, cost several thousand dollars, and leave teachers feeling overwhelmed and drained. Yet, nearly all NBC teachers agree that it is worth the effort and that certification dramatically changed them as educators.

What Is National Board Certification?

National Board Certification is a national voluntary certification process designed to recognize effective teachers who have advanced teaching skills. This professional development opportunity includes an assessment based on national standards developed by teachers. The process requires completion of 10 assessments, four portfolio entries, and six constructed-response exercises that evaluate content knowledge. To be eligible to pursue this advanced-teaching credential, individuals must have a bachelor's degree, hold a state teaching certificate, and have taught for a minimum of three years. Teachers usually spend one to three years working toward certification by videotaping lessons, writing about their teaching, and taking tests to assess their content and pedagogical knowledge. Certification lasts 10 years and can be renewed (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards [NBPTS), 2012). Additional information related to acquiring NBC can be found at the NBPTS web site (www.nbpts.org/become_a_candidate/what_is_national_board_c).

How Did National Board Certification Develop?

The NBPTS was developed with the purpose of providing an objective way to determine advanced teaching skills. It created five core propositions designed to identify and recognize teachers who possess advanced subject-matter and pedagogical knowledge, demonstrate high levels of commitment to students and student learning, approach their teaching in a highly reflective and systematic way, and stay professionally active in learning communities. To identify teachers who meet these expectations, the board established criteria that exceed traditional assessments of teacher knowledge by examining student work and teacher-student interactions "in circumstances that would be genuine but could be standardized for scoring" (Hakel, Koenig, & Elliott, 2008, p. 42). As a result, NBC teachers, similar to board-certified doctors, architects, and accountants, have met rigorous standards through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment, and peer review.

What Does the Research Say About NBC?

Of more than 200 published studies related to NBC, much of the research has focused on the relationship between NBC and student performance (Hakel et al., 2008). Findings from these studies vary regarding the differences between NBC and non-NBC teachers. Some studies have found that NBC teachers affect student learning more and demonstrate greater teaching effectiveness than noncertified teachers (Cantrell, Fullerton, Kane, & Staiger, 2007; Cavalluzzo, 2004; Goldhaber & Anthony, 2005; Harris & Sass, 2007), while other studies have found fewer differences (McColskey et al., 2005; Sanders, Ashton, & Wright, 2005). In short, the research is unclear about whether teachers with NBC are more effective than teachers without NBC.

Studies examining NBC teachers' working environments have found that certification increases their perceived credibility in the profession (Woods & Rhoades, 2012), enhances respect from others (Yankelovich Partners, 2001), and increases collaboration with other teachers (NBPTS, 2008). These studies have also found that NBC teachers feel more confident and remain in the profession longer than teachers who do not achieve the advanced certification. …

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