Nancy Flanagan is a nationally known teacher and teacher-advocate. I am honored to post her comment here because she has deep authority. And what she has to say is alarming. Pearson has taken over the National Board Certification process! Will they align it with their tests and the Common Core, where they are funded by Gates to develop online resources?

I am a National Board Certified Teacher. I also worked for the National Board as a certificate developer, assessor, and in their teacher leadership and policy outreach divisions, then returned to the classroom. I have seen National Board Certification from all sides.

First–there have been well over 200 studies done on NB Certification, and nearly all show that NBC Teachers are highly effective. The studies have been done by major research institutions as well as university-based critics of national certification for teachers, and have examined all aspects of the process. The National Research Council published a federally funded, well-respected meta-analysis of the major studies in 2008, during the Bush admin:

One more–here is a report written by actual teachers, analyzing the impact of National Board Certification on their practice, as well as a couple dozen major research reports. It addresses some of the familiar objections and remarks found in the comments on this blog:

In short, research has convincingly demonstrated that NBCTs are effective. Not “better” than other teachers–effective. And especially effective in low-performing schools–which supports state policies that provide stipends for NBCTs.

There are many candidates, like Teacher from the West, who find that they’re already reflecting daily, planning carefully, delivering instruction using multiple paths to learning, and assessing carefully– and that going through the process is simply an exercise in exhaustively documenting that practice. Others see NB Cert as professional development, learning to do things they weren’t doing before–and either experience is beneficial to kids and learning.

Yes, the NB experience feels annoyingly nit-picky. But that’s about psychometric integrity, not the NB being overly rule-bound. In order for scores to be psychometrically valid and reliable, teachers have to follow explicit assessment rules. It’s annoying–but clean assessment procedures are what yield useable data.

Here’s what I worry about: NBPTS has now been taken over by Pearson. The teacher-led, teacher-developed goals of the original founders’ mission–using teacher expertise to shape education reform–are so far from what we’re doing now it’s frightening. And–the US Dept Of Ed decided not to put the National Board in their last budget. They gave $$ to Teach for America instead.

Perhaps–as a profession–we need to be worried about the one major national attempt to set professional standards of practice. That fact that many states are dismantling their NBC programs (since they’re not getting federal money) is a harbinger of more de-skilling and de-professionalizing to come.