Every public school teacher must become certified or licensed by their states before they become full-fledged educators. This involves completing whatever educational prerequisites and assessment exams are required by your particular state. The teaching license or credential you then receive specifies what grade level you have been trained to teach.
Some teachers choose to go beyond the basic mandates of state certification, however, by working toward a national teaching certificate from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). This advanced credential proves that you have met the highest professional criteria in a certain area of teaching.
Some of the benefits you can achieve by national certification include major improvement in your teaching performance as well as significant enhancement in your students’ academic accomplishments. According to a 2008 study by the National Research Council, students taught by NBPTS-certified teachers have been documented as scoring higher on achievement tests than students who do not have NBPTS teachers. Because of these demonstrated results, teachers with NBPTS certification often command higher salaries, become mentors and leaders for other educators, influence curriculum and policy decisions, and are usually able to teach in many other states without meeting that state’s specific licensing requirements.
To be eligible to apply for NBPTS certification, you must hold a bachelor’s degree, have at least three years of active teaching experience, and have owned a valid state teaching license for all of the years you taught (or, if you taught in schools that did not require a license, you must prove you taught at state-approved schools). Once accepted for enrollment, you should be prepared to spend as long as three years working toward your NBPTS certificate.
This involves demonstrating your proficiency in your classroom teaching methods with four portfolios. Three of these portfolios are classroom based and involve videotaping or otherwise documenting some of your classroom activities. The fourth portfolio deals with any outside activities you participate in that affect your teaching. You will also be required to pass six 30-minute assessment exercises in your chosen area, which are administered at computer-based testing centers around the country.
You can currently choose to earn an NBPTS teaching certificate in the following areas:
- Career and Technical Education
- English as a New Language
- English Language Arts
- Exceptional Needs Specialist
- Library Media
- Literacy: Reading-Language Arts
- Physical Education
- School Counseling
- Social Studies-History
- World Languages Other Than English
Each teaching certificate can be earned in specified age categories, which can range from the following:
- Early Childhood-ages three to eight
- Middle Childhood-ages seven to twelve
- Early and Middle Childhood-ages three to twelve
- Early Childhood Through Young Adulthood-ages three to eighteen and above
- Early Adolescence-ages eleven to fifteen
- Adolescence and Young Adulthood-ages fourteen to eighteen and above
- Early Adolescence Through Young Adulthood-ages eleven to eighteen and above
The area and age level of certificate you pursue should be carefully chosen on the basis of what subjects you teach, the grade or age level of your students, how much you know about your subject area, and how you can demonstrate your expertise in this knowledge.
NBPTS certification is valid for ten years with renewal usually starting in your eighth or ninth year.