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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs 6 Teacher Participation in the Program The vision laid out in the national board’s founding document, A Nation Prepared (Carnegie Task Force on Teaching as a Profession, 1986) is of a system in which board certification becomes increasingly well known, respected, and widespread. Not only would administrators be able to use certification status to guide accomplished teachers to high-needs schools, but growing numbers of board-certified teachers would assume mentoring roles and share their skills with other teachers. Moreover, the task force anticipated that board-certified teachers would be in high demand in that salary structures for teachers would provide substantial rewards for earning board certification, and that states would encourage certification and support its underlying goals in other ways. Together, all of these improvements in the profession would keep the most accomplished teachers in the classroom, have a beneficial influence on the skills of all teachers, and help to attract larger numbers of able teachers to the field. Board certification cannot produce such effects unless there is sufficient participation in the program so that a critical mass of board-certified teachers is present in schools, districts, and states. Thus, a clear understanding of the extent of participation, the factors that influence participation, and the ways in which board-certified teachers are distributed among states, districts, and schools is a critical component of an evaluation of the program. In this chapter, we address the third question on our framework:
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs Question 3: To what extent do teachers participate in the program? Figure 2-1 shows how this question fits into our overall framework. To investigate this question, the committee identified the following subsidiary questions: How many teachers apply each year for board certification? Have there been changes in application rates over time? How do application rates compare across states and districts? What are the characteristics of teachers who apply compared with those who do not? What are the characteristics of teachers who successfully earn board certification compared with those who do not? Why do teachers choose to participate or not? What do various agencies (the board, states, school districts, teachers unions, etc.) do to encourage participation? How do these actions influence teachers’ attitudes toward certification and participation in the process? To address these questions, we relied on information from two sources. The first source was the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) itself. National board staff members provided written responses to questions we submitted, as well as other information about participation rates, including an electronic version of their longitudinal candidate database for our own analyses. The second source was a research base consisting of seven studies that focused on teachers’ motivations for pursuing board certification. In the sections that follow, we first examine participation patterns, comparing participation rates over time and by state and school district, as well as the characteristics of teachers who pursue board certification. We then turn to a discussion of the reasons teachers decide to obtain board certification. Additional details about the specific sources we used are provided in the relevant sections. In the sections that follow, we use the terms “applicants,” “candidates,” and “participants” interchangeably, to refer to all teachers who apply for board certification by completing the entire assessment process, regardless of whether they pass the assessment or not. The term “achievers” denotes teachers who earn board certification by completing the assessment process and receive a passing score. HOW MANY TEACHERS HAVE PARTICIPATED? The national board provided the committee with information that we used to determine the levels of participation in the program and the characteristics of participants. The electronic data set supplied by the national
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs board contained background characteristics for teachers who applied for and earned board certification between 1993-1994 and 2005-2006,1 as well as information about the states in which these applicants resided and the types of schools in which they worked at the time of application. Information identifying the school districts in which teachers worked at the time of application was not included on the electronic data file because of confidentiality concerns, but the national board provided the information we needed in response to specific requests. Below we summarize the information we obtained with regard to national, state, and district participation rates, as well as the characteristics of national board participants in comparison with the full population of teachers in the United States. National Participation Rates The national board’s assessments became operational in 1993, and since that time approximately 99,300 teachers have applied for board certification and approximately 63,800 have achieved it.2 It is not possible to determine how many of these teachers are still teaching, and we therefore cannot determine the precise percentage of the current teacher workforce these numbers represent. However, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), there were just over 3.7 million teachers in the country in the 2003-2004 school years, and approximately 3.1 million (83 percent) teachers were eligible to apply for board certification.3 The total number of applicants for board certification represents 2.6 percent of the entire teaching force and 3.2 percent of the eligible teaching force. The total number of teachers who have earned board certification represents 1.7 percent of the entire teaching force and 2.0 percent of those eligible. These rates of both participation and achievement are likely to be overestimates of their share of the workforce, since it is not likely that all of the applicants and achievers are still teaching.4 1 Unless specified otherwise, our analyses throughout this chapter are based on data from 1993-1994 through 2005-2006 because those were the data available to us during the course of the project. 2 These figures include the numbers for the 2006-2007 school year, which became available just prior to the release of this report. 3 NBPTS prerequisites are that a teacher must have earned a bachelor’s degree, must have completed three full years of teaching, and must have a valid license throughout that period. See Chapter 4 for further details about the eligibility requirements. 4 In calculating the percentages, we used as the numerator the total cumulative numbers of teachers who have pursued and obtained board certification during the life of the program; there is no way to verify whether they are currently teaching or not. The denominator includes the number of licensed teachers employed in the 2003-2004 school year. It is unlikely that all of the teachers who have pursued board certification were still working as of 2003-2004, and, as a result, the participation rates we report are likely to be overestimates.
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs TABLE 6-1 Participation in NBPTS Certification 1993-2007 1993-1994 1994-1995 1995-1996 1996-1997 1997-1998 1998-1999 1999-2000 Applicantsa 542 346 520 720 1,837 5,423 6,815 Achieversb 177 199 219 318 924 2,969 4,728 aApplicants include only first-time applicants who completed the entire assessment process. Although participation rates are low, they have increased over the years. Only 542 teachers attempted the assessment the first year board certification was offered when certification was available in two areas,5 and just 177 were successful. Since 2001, the number of first-time applicants has been over 11,000 per year, and between 7,300 and 8,500 teachers have earned board certification each year. Table 6-1 displays the participation levels over the past 14 school years, showing the number of applicants and achievers nationwide. While the rate of growth has not been regular, the trend across the life of the program has been upward. Participation Rates by State Participation rates vary considerably from state to state, in part because of differences in the extent to which states encourage teachers to pursue board certification (an issue taken up in more detail later in the chapter). Table 6-2 displays the number of teachers who have applied for and earned board certification by state between 1993-1994 through 2005-2006.6 In this table, the entry for “state” indicates the location where the teacher was employed at the time she or he pursued board certification, not where the teacher currently works. For each state, the table shows the number of applicants and achievers as a percentage of the number of eligible teachers in the state. The percentages of eligible teachers applying range from a low of 0.2 percent in New Hampshire and Texas to a high of 21 percent in North Carolina. The percentages of teachers who earned board certification range from 0.1 percent in New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Texas to a high of nearly 13 percent in 5 By 1997-1998, certification was available in seven areas; by 2000-2001, 19 areas were available; by 2005-2006, there were 24, and there are currently 25. 6 All analyses by state are based on the electronic database we received from the NBPTS and report data for the 1993-1994 through 2005-2006 school years.
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs 2000-2001 2001-2002 2002-2003 2003-2004 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 Total 10,121 13,886 12,313 11,894 11,688 11,007 12,221 99,321 6,508 7,897 8,211 8,067 7,300 7,807 8,547 63,847 bAchievers include all candidates who achieved during their three-year candidacy; hence beginning in 1997-1998, the number of achievers in a given year corresponds to first-time applicants in that given year and a portion of first-time applicants from the prior two years who did not achieve in their first attempts. North Carolina. The majority of the board-certified teachers in the country, 66 percent, were found in seven states: California, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina. Participation Rates by School Districts There are approximately 14,000 school districts in the country and 96,513 public and private schools (http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d06/tables/dt06_083.asp). If board-certified teachers were evenly spread across the country (assuming that all of the 63,800 board-certified teachers were still working), this would translate to an average of four to five board-certified teachers per school district, three for every five schools. However, participation is not even across the country and varies as much by district as by state. The NBPTS assisted us in conducting an analysis of 13 years’ worth of data (1993-1994 through 2005-2006) on the districts where teachers were employed at the time they applied for board certification. These analyses revealed that, during this 13-year period in about 8,901 school districts (64 percent),7 there were no teachers who applied for board certification. Another 2,513 (18 percent) districts had only one or two applicants. Approximately 1,008 districts (7 percent) had between three and five applicants during this time period. In 593 districts (4 percent) there were between six and 10 teacher applicants, and in the remaining 985 districts (7 percent), 11 or more teachers applied. With regard to the distribution of board-certified teachers, in 9,846 districts (70 percent), there were no teachers who earned board certification during this time period, and another 2,200 districts (16 percent) had only one or two teachers who became board certified during this time span. Ap- 7 These figures are approximates because some candidates do not report their school district, and thus the district is unknown.
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs TABLE 6-2 Certification Applicants and Achievers Nationwide and by State, 1993-2006 State Applicantsa Achieversa Total Teachers Eligible for Board Certificationb Applicants as a Percentage of Eligible Teachersb Achievers as a Percentage of Eligible Teachersb All states 87,112 55,324 3,097,271 2.8 1.8 Alabama 1,606 1,096 50,361 3.2 2.2 Alaska 115 76 7,765 1.5 1.0 Arizona 527 346 49,792 1.1 0.7 Arkansas 1,034 585 34,929 3.0 1.7 California 5,493 3,645 273,548 2.0 1.3 Colorado 424 271 46,784 0.9 0.6 Connecticut 162 126 43,946 0.4 0.3 Delaware 496 348 7,858 6.3 4.4 District of Columbia 78 18 5,080 1.5 0.4 Florida 15,222 9,223 145,826 10.4 6.3 Georgia 3,695 2,335 94,765 3.9 2.5 Hawaii 210 125 13,482 1.6 0.9 Idaho 420 327 14,427 2.9 2.3 Illinois 3,381 1,985 137,972 2.5 1.4 Indiana 280 131 61,097 0.5 0.2 Iowa 681 527 39,045 1.7 1.3 Kansas 340 236 36,790 0.9 0.6 Kentucky 1,616 1,120 45,935 3.5 2.4 Louisiana 1,923 1,032 53,155 3.6 1.9 Maine 141 104 19,060 0.7 0.5 Maryland 1,394 823 54,617 2.6 1.5 Massachusetts 656 439 80,792 0.8 0.5 Michigan 458 213 96,307 0.5 0.2 Minnesota 422 285 60,596 0.7 0.5 Mississippi 3,600 2,550 31,729 11.3 8.0 Missouri 601 341 72,455 0.8 0.5 Montana 81 58 12,381 0.7 0.5 Nebraska 88 49 26,150 0.3 0.2 Nevada 420 277 18,324 2.3 1.5 New Hampshire 25 18 14,809 0.2 0.1 New Jersey 282 134 110,326 0.3 0.1 New Mexico 510 234 19,525 2.6 1.2 New York 1,177 690 220,229 0.5 0.3
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs State Applicantsa Achieversa Total Teachers Eligible for Board Certificationb Applicants as a Percentage of Eligible Teachersb Achievers as a Percentage of Eligible Teachersb North Carolina 17,812 11,325 84,467 21.1 13.4 North Dakota 54 25 9,498 0.6 0.3 Ohio 4,258 2,624 135,515 3.1 1.9 Oklahoma 2,341 1,567 43,544 5.4 3.6 Oregon 346 208 27,573 1.3 0.8 Pennsylvania 460 297 128,605 0.4 0.2 Rhode Island 393 253 13,674 2.9 1.9 South Carolina 7,363 5,075 45,086 16.3 11.3 South Dakota 80 58 11,157 0.7 0.5 Tennessee 431 236 61,139 0.7 0.4 Texas 547 317 257,771 0.2 0.1 Utah 193 106 21,208 0.9 0.5 Vermont 131 90 10,308 1.3 0.9 Virginia 1,872 1,134 135,515 2.2 1.4 Washington 1,784 1,307 61,985 2.9 2.1 West Virginia 432 290 21,824 2.0 1.3 Wisconsin 607 402 73,500 0.8 0.5 Wyoming 178 77 7,149 2.5 1.1 aSOURCE: NBPTS data files. bBased on the number of public and private school teachers in the state in 2003-2004 who had met the prerequisites for board certification. SOURCE: SASS 2003-2004. proximately 800 districts (6 percent) had between three and five teachers who earned board certification during this time span; and 417 districts (3 percent) had between six and 10 teachers. The remaining 707 (5 percent) districts had 11 or more teachers who earned board certification. There are some districts with fairly large concentrations of board-certified teachers, such as certain areas of North Carolina and Florida. For example, Table 6-3 shows the number of applicant and board-certified teachers for five districts in relation to the total number of teachers and schools in each district. As the table shows, applicants as a percentage of total teachers in these districts range from 7 percent in Miami–Dade County, Florida, to 16 percent in Wake County, North Carolina. The percentages of board-certified teachers range from 4 percent in Miami–Dade County to 11 percent in Wake County.
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs Another way to consider the concentration of board-certified teachers is in relation to the number of schools in the district. In all five districts in Table 6-3, the ratio of board-certified teachers per school exceeds the national average of three for every five schools. In these schools, the ratio ranges from about two board-certified teachers per school in Miami–Dade County to seven board-certified teachers per school in Wake County. On the basis of our review of participation rates—nationally, by state, and by district—we present two findings: Finding 6-1: Overall, participation rates in the NBPTS certification program are low. Approximately 3 percent of the eligible teachers in the country have pursued board certification, and approximately 2 percent of the nation’s eligible teachers are currently board certified. While these participation rates are low, the number of teachers pursuing board certification has increased significantly since the program began. Finding 6-2: The rates at which teachers apply for and earn board certification vary across states and school districts. TABLE 6-3 National Board-Certification Applicants and Achievers Between 1993 and 2006 in Five School Districts Total Teachers Total Schools Applicantsa Achieversa Number Percentageb Number Percentageb North Carolina: Charlotte–Mecklenburgc 8,860 167 1,359 15 889 10 Wake Countyd 9,703 153 1,574 16 1,110 11 Florida: Broward Countye 16,756 288 1,615 10 979 6 Brevard Countyf 5,120 113 888 13 464 9 Miami–Dade Countyg 23,629 415 1,692 7 945 4 aSOURCE: NBPTS. bPercentage of total teachers. cSee http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/discover/pdf/fastfactssheet.pdf. dSee http://www.wcpss.net/basic_facts.html. eSee http://www.fldoe.org/eias/flmove/broward.asp. fSee http://www.fldoe.org/eias/flmove/brevard.asp. gSee http://www.fldoe.org/eias/flmove/dade.asp.
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs CHARACTERISTICS OF PARTICIPANTS Background Characteristics The NBPTS electronic data set supplied to the committee contained background characteristics for teachers who applied for board certification between 1993-1994 and 2005-2006, based on information they provided when they registered for the assessment, together with a pass/fail variable indicating successful and unsuccessful applicants. We did not have access to teachers’ scores on the assessment, and the data do not include the number of attempts teachers made before passing. The committee examined the characteristics of teachers who decide to pursue board certification (see Perda, 2007). We compared the characteristics of applicants for board certification with those of teachers in general, using data from the SASS for 2003-2004. Table 6-4 shows the percentages of all NBPTS-eligible teachers, of national board applicants, and of teachers who successfully earned board certification by gender, race, level of education, employment setting, and grade level taught, as well as the average age and years of experience for these groups. These data indicate that, overall, national board participants are predominantly white women. More than half have a master’s degree and teach at the elementary level. On average, national board participants are 40 years old and have 13 years of experience. Table 6-4 allows comparison of the characteristics of the group of teachers who applied for board certification with the full group of NBPTS-eligible teachers. The groups differ in several ways. While teachers in general were disproportionately female (75.9 percent), the applicant group was even more so (88 percent). African Americans were slightly more prevalent among the group of teachers who applied for board certification than among the overall population of teachers (9.5 versus 7.1 percent nationally), whereas the reverse was true for Hispanics (4.0 versus 5.6 percent nationally). Teachers who applied for board certification were more likely to have a master’s degree (57.1 percent) than were NBPTS-eligible teachers in the national sample (49.8 percent). Board applicants were also younger and had less teaching experience (40.6 and 12.4 years, respectively), on average, than were NBPTS-eligible teachers in the national sample (44 and 15.8 years, respectively). Table 6-4 also shows the group distributions for teachers who successfully achieved board certification. With respect to gender, age, experience, and grade level taught, teachers who earned board certification are similar to teachers who apply. In terms of race and ethnicity, however, there are differences between these two groups. As noted above, African Americans are overrepresented in the ap-
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs TABLE 6-4 Characteristics of NBPTS-Eligible Teachers in Public and Private Schools in the United States (2003-2004) and National Board-Certification Applicants and Achievers (1993-2006) All NBPTS-Eligible Teachersa Board-Certification Applicantsb Board-Certification Achieversb Success Rateb Gender Women 75.9 88.0 88.8 64.1 Men 24.1 12.0 11.2 59.1 Race/ethnicity American Indian or Alaskan Native 0.5 0.8 0.6 54.9 Asian 1.2 1.1 1.1 61.3 African American 7.1 9.5 4.7 31.4 Hispanic 5.6 4.0 3.4 54.4 Pacific Islander 0.2 0.2 0.2 57.0 White, not of Hispanic origin 84.7 84.5 90.1 67.9 Multiple races, non-Hispanic 0.7 0.0 0.0 — Highest degree earned Less than bachelor’s 0.0 0.1 0.1 76.5 Bachelor’s 49.0 38.5 35.6 58.7 Master’s 49.8 57.1 60.0 66.8 Education specialist 0.0 2.7 2.7 62.9 Doctorate 1.2 1.6 1.6 62.7 Age (mean, SD) 44.0 (10.6) 40.6 (9.1) 40.3 (9.1) Years of teaching experience (mean, SD) 15.8 (9.9) 12.4 (7.6) 12.6 (7.6) Type of school setting Rural 18.6 31.8 31.1 68.2 Suburban 52.6 33.2 35.9 75.6 Urban 28.8 35.1 33.0 65.6 Grade level taught Preschool/elementary 50.1 52.4 51.8 62.7 Middle 16.9 20.8 19.8 60.6 High 26.1 26.8 28.3 67.1 Combined 7.0 0.0 0.0 — aTeachers who held a bachelor’s degree, had three or more years of teaching experience and were certified by their state or other accrediting or certifying body. SOURCE: SASS 2003-2004. bSOURCE: NBPTS data files.
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs plicant group compared with their percentages in the general population of teachers, but, at 4.7 percent of those who earn certification, they are underrepresented in the successful applicant group. Column four of Table 6-4 shows the success rate for each group—a combination of the initial pass rate, based on results from the first attempt on taking the assessment, and teachers’ persistence levels (teachers may retake the assessment until they obtain the required passing scores). The success rate for African American teachers is less than half that for white teachers (31.4 versus 67.9 percent).8 A lower success rate for Hispanics (54.4 percent) also contributes to their lesser representation in the successful applicant group (3.4 percent), compared with their representation in the full applicant group (4.0 percent) and in the national sample of NBPTS-eligible teachers (5.6 percent). Successful applicants also tend to have higher education levels than the full applicant group and the national sample of eligible teachers. The successful applicant group included fewer teachers who have only a bachelor’s degree (35.6 percent) than did both the full applicant group (38.5) and the national eligible sample (49.0 percent) and higher percentages of teachers with master’s degrees (60 percent) than did the full group of applicants (57.1 percent) and the national eligible sample (49.8 percent). Board-Certified Teachers’ Employment Settings There are currently no national data sets that provide information about the locations where board-certified teachers work. The data set maintained by the NBPTS indicates only the type of school setting in which teachers worked at the time of application, and even this indicator provides minimal information (e.g., whether the school is classified as rural, suburban, or urban). As shown in Table 6-4, board applicants are fairly evenly distributed across rural, urban, and suburban schools, and the same is true for teachers who earn board certification. By contrast, the majority of the national sample of NBPTS-eligible teachers was employed in suburban schools (52.6 percent), with only 18.6 percent teaching in schools in rural areas. Beyond this, there is no existing, routinely collected, national information about where board-certified teachers work. Two groups of researchers have investigated this issue in depth, using data collected and maintained by six states and one large school district. Using these data, Goldhaber, Perry, and Anthony (2003) and Humphrey, Koppich, and Hough (2005) compared the characteristics of employment settings for board-certified and nonboard-certified teachers. The initial 8 These are eventual success rates, which reflect multiple attempts to pass the assessment. Thus the success rate reflects both the initial pass rate and teachers’ persistence in reattempts to pass the assessment.
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs Incentives as a Percentage of Salary Percentage of Eligible Teachers in the Stated Bonus Fee and Bonus Applicants Achievers 12.9 19.3 3.2 2.2 1.5 1.0 1.1 0.7 7.4 13.6 3.0 1.7 8.6 8.6 2.0 1.3 0.9 0.6 0.4 0.3 12.0 12.0 6.3 4.4 8.6 10.3 1.5 0.4 10.0 15.5 10.4 6.3 10.0 15.4 3.9 2.5 11.3 16.9 1.6 0.9 4.7 4.7 2.9 2.3 5.4 9.0 2.5 1.4 0.5 0.2 6.2 12.4 1.7 1.3 2.6 8.9 0.9 0.6 4.9 9.5 3.5 2.4 12.9 18.0 3.6 1.9 0.7 0.5 7.6 10.8 2.6 1.5 0.8 0.5 4.5 0.5 0.2 0.7 0.5 16.4 23.2 11.3 8.0 12.8 17.6 0.8 0.5 7.8 7.8 0.7 0.5 0.3 0.2
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs State Financial Incentivesa Fee Support Bonus Average Teacher Salaryb Nevada $2,000 $2,170 $43,394 New Hampshire $1,000 $43,941 New Jersey $2,500 $56,600 New Mexico $4,000 $39,328 New York $2,500 $3,333 $56,200 North Carolina $2,500 $5,198 $43,313 North Dakota $1,250 (stipend) $36,449 Ohio $2,000 $1,000 $48,692 Oklahoma $2,500 $5,000 $37,141 Oregon $50,790 Pennsylvania $52,700 Rhode Island $53,473 South Carolina $2,300 $7,500 $42,207 South Dakota $2,500 $2,000 $34,040 Tennessee $41,527 Texas $41,009 Utah $39,965 Vermont $650 $44,535 Virginia $1,000 $5,000 $44,763 Washington $3,500 $45,712 West Virginia $2,000 $2,500 $43,466 Wisconsin $2,500 $2,500 $38,360 Wyoming $40,392 aIncentives are for the 2004-2005 school year. bAverage salary for the 2004-2005 school year. SOURCE: National Education Association, Estimates of School Statistics, 1969-1970 through 2004-2005. cA blank indicates that no financial incentive was offered. dBased on number of public and private school teachers in the state in 2003-2004.
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs Incentives as a Percentage of Salary Percentage of Eligible Teachers in the Stated Bonus Fee and Bonus Applicants Achievers 5.0 9.6 2.3 1.5 2.3 0.2 0.1 4.4 0.3 0.1 10.2 10.2 2.6 1.2 5.9 10.4 0.5 0.3 12.0 17.8 21.1 13.4 (not specified) 3.4+ 0.6 0.3 2.1 6.2 3.1 1.9 13.5 20.2 5.4 3.6 1.3 0.8 0.4 0.2 2.9 1.9 17.8 23.2 16.3 11.3 5.9 13.2 0.7 0.5 0.7 0.4 0.2 0.1 0.9 0.5 1.5 1.3 0.9 11.2 13.4 2.2 1.4 7.7 7.7 2.9 2.1 6.5 13.0 2.0 1.3 5.8 10.4 0.8 0.5 2.5 1.1
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs TABLE 6-9 Studies Examining Teachers’ Reasons for National Board Participation Study Population Studied State(s) Sampling Method Barfield and McEnany (2004) NBCTs asked why teachers do not participate MT Sent to all NBCTs in the state Belden (2002) NBCTs CA Sent to all NBCTs in the state Indiana Professional Standards board (2002) NBCTs IN Sent to all NBCTs in the state Koppich, Humphrey, and Hough (2006) NBCTs CA, FL, MS, NC, OH, SC Stratified random sample Moore (2002) Nonparticipants asked why teachers do not participate TN – 2 counties Cluster sampling
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs Sample Size, Response Rate Methods Findings Issues Affecting Validity of the Findings 31; responses from 22 (71%) Mail survey Time commitment and cost Lack of administrator support Fear of not being successful Harassment of teachers who have become certified Small sample. In appropriate sample: NBCTs were asked to speculate about their peers’ reasons for not participating 785; responses from 519 (68%) Mail survey, focus groups Personal challenge Opportunity to strengthen teaching Monetary compensation Career advancement and recognition All survey questions were worded positively 71; responses from 32 (48%) Mail survey, focus group Improve effectiveness Intrinsic motivation to advance External validation of their teaching Small sample 1,136; responses from 654 (75%) Mail survey Improve student learning Financial compensation Increase the credibility of one’s teaching Career advancement Influence change at the school No concerns 700; responses from 448 (64%) Survey Negative opinion of the program, but also poorly informed about it Paperwork and time commitment Skepticism about the process Fear of being ostracized by non-NBCTs No NBCTs in the counties studied; unclear how much respondents knew about the NBPTS
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs Study Population Studied State(s) Sampling Method Sykes et al. (2006) NBCTs OH, SC Wayne et al. (2004) NBCTs, unsuccessful applicants, and nonparticipants CA, FL, MD Unclear increase. This survey was part of a much more comprehensive study of the impacts of board certification; we highlight here only the findings relevant for this aspect of our evaluation. The authors asked survey respondents why they decided to pursue certification. Factors given the strongest ratings were financial compensation, the opportunity for professional development, and the opportunity to serve in leadership roles. The rankings of these factors were slightly different in the two states—teachers in South Carolina, the state with the more generous incentives, ranked financial compensation much higher than did Ohio teachers. The opportunity for professional development was given similar weight by teachers in both states. Koppich et al. (2006) surveyed teachers in six states—California, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina—which together, at the time, accounted for 65 percent of the board-certified teachers in the country. As with Sykes et al., the survey delved into a number of issues besides reasons for participating in the NBPTS, and we highlight here only the relevant findings. Koppich and her colleagues found that the top three motives for pursuing board certification were to improve student learning (95 percent), to achieve the potential for increased financial compensation (90 percent), and to obtain external validation for the quality of one’s teaching (88 percent). Slightly fewer than half also reported that they pursued board certification because of the possibility of advancing their careers without leaving teaching (45 percent) and the opportunity to influence changes at their schools (44 percent). The authors report that focus
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs Sample Size, Response Rate Methods Findings Issues Affecting Validity of the Findings 1,500; responses from 1,153 (77%); 566 from SC and 587 from OH Survey Financial compensation Opportunity for professional development Opportunity to serve in leadership roles No concerns 86; 40 NBCTs, 32 unsuccessful applicants, 14 nonparticipants Phone interviews Validate teaching capabilities Increase professional status Financial incentives important but not the primary motive Small sample, unclear how obtained; sample too small to examine responses by group group discussions and interviews corroborated these findings, with most board-certified teachers saying that they viewed the credential as evidence of personal achievement and that they decided to pursue it out of a desire to prove that they are accomplished practitioners. Together, the findings from these three studies suggest that financial incentives are important factors in teachers’ decisions to pursue board certification, but not the sole factor. Generally, it seems that the three principal motivators are financial incentives, the desire to improve their effectiveness, and the desire to obtain external validation and recognition of their capabilities. These findings are similar to those reported in the two smaller scale surveys (Indiana Professional Standards Board, 2002; Wayne et al., 2004). In contrast, only two studies have examined reasons why teachers choose not to pursue board certification (Barfield and McEnany, 2004; Moore, 2002). Barfield and McEnany surveyed board-certified teachers in Montana about the reasons other teachers do not participate. The sample was fewer than 25 teachers, who were asked to speculate about their non-board-certified colleagues’ motivations, so the results must be viewed with caution. Moore (2002) surveyed over 400 teachers who had the minimum qualifications to pursue board certification but who had not done so. However, all the teachers surveyed worked in two counties in Tennessee, neither of which had any board-certified teachers; thus, there is no way to know whether the respondents actually understood what board certification
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs involves. Despite these methodological problems, the two studies report similar findings. In both, the respondents commented on the extent of work involved and the time commitment, saying that these factors, along with the expense, were obstacles to participation. The respondents also voiced some skepticism about the benefits of board certification, commenting that teachers who earned the credential were “harassed” (Barfield and McEnany) or “ostracized” (Moore) by other teachers. None of the seven studies addressed the issue of minority participation in the NBPTS program. Although the participation rates for racial/ethnic minority teachers generally reflect their relative representation among NBPTS-eligible teachers (i.e., racial/ethnic minorities represent about 15 percent of NBPTS-eligible teachers and 15 percent of NBPTS applicants), their absolute numbers are quite small. Over the 13-year time span represented in Table 6-4 (between 1993-2004 and 2005-2006), only roughly 13,000 minority teachers participated in the program. Furthermore, while racial/ethnic minority teachers comprise about 15 percent of the NBPTS-eligible applicant pool, fewer than 10 percent of the group achieved board certification, which amounts to roughly 5,500 teachers. To date, the only study that has explored the issue of minority teacher participation was a small-scale study by Bond (1998a), which was discussed in Chapter 5. Bond’s focus group discussions with 25 African American teachers revealed that they were reluctant to pursue board certification out of fear of performing poorly and concern about the academic abilities of their students (which would be highlighted on the videotapes). They also reported that they were not kept informed regarding professional opportunities, such as board certification. NATIONAL BOARD EFFORTS TO ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION We queried the NBPTS about its efforts to encourage teachers to pursue board certification. The board staff includes 10 regional outreach directors who are responsible for developing strategies to expand awareness of the board in their assigned geographic regions, encouraging policy makers to provide fee support and/or incentives and promoting NBPTS products and services. The board’s primary efforts focus on media coverage of board-certified teachers and the board’s position on issues relating to board certification and teacher quality. They feature teachers’ stories in education-related publications and in newspapers and also advertise in organizational publications (e.g., the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the Educational Testing Service, the National Association of Black School Educators). The board uses its national conference for board-certified teachers to raise awareness as well. When the conference occurs in Washington, DC, one day is designated Hill Day, and participants
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs go to Capitol Hill to meet with various U.S. representatives. The board also recently implemented its Take One program, which allows teachers to get a taste of the certification process by completing and submitting a single portfolio entry. The entry is scored and eligible teachers can bank the score for credit if they later decide to complete the full certification process within a designated time period. The board also has efforts under way to recruit minority candidates, which were described in Chapter 4. We are not aware of any efforts the board has made to collect information from state policy makers or teachers regarding their awareness of the NBPTS, their opinion of its value, or its relevance to their needs. If it has not been conducted, such market research could be of considerable value to board staff. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Our examination of participation in the certification program reveals several clear points. First, application rates are low but steadily increasing. To date, approximately 3 percent of the 3.1 million NBPTS-eligible teachers in this country have attempted to become board certified, and approximately 2 percent of the nation’s eligible teachers have earned board certification. Second, participation in the program is quite variable across the country. In four states, participation rates are more than triple the national rate (Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina), but in many others, the participation rate is equal to, or lower than, the national rate. There are five school districts that have seen fairly high participation, with over 460 board-certified teachers in each, but in 64 percent of the school districts in the country, there were no applicants, and in 70 percent of the districts there were no teachers who earned board certification. The link between the incentives offered by states and participation in the program appears to be quite strong, suggesting that teacher participation is related to the degree to which states and districts encourage it. However, teachers report that while financial incentives are a consideration in their decision making, they also pursue board certification for personal reasons, primarily for the professional accomplishment and the desire to validate their teaching skills. Little is known about the opinions of teachers who have not chosen to participate or who participated and were unsuccessful. Information about the opinions of these latter two groups would be useful in understanding the likely future participation of teachers in board certification. Furthermore, the absolute numbers of racial/ethnic minority teacher participants are low, but little is known about the reasons why they do not pursue board certification. Research on this issue would be useful to help inform recruitment efforts. There are other important questions about participation that cannot
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs be answered with the existing data. Most important, no existing data sets make it possible to determine exactly where board-certified teachers work. We can identify where teachers were employed at the time of application, but we do not know what teachers do after becoming board certified—even whether they stay in their original school or transfer elsewhere. Thus, we cannot evaluate the distribution of board-certified teachers across the country. This is a topic we return to in Chapter 9, where we address teachers’ career paths. From the committee’s examination of participation patterns, it is not clear whether the board should be judged successful at creating a significant cadre of advanced certified teachers, and we spent considerable time debating what, if any, conclusions to draw and recommendations to make. On one hand, the founders of the NBPTS never expected that all teachers in the country would become board certified. They intended the credential to create an upper echelon in the profession, with only the most accomplished teachers attaining this level. If the upper echelon was interpreted to mean the top 10 percent of teachers, one might expect that eventually roughly 400,000 teachers would become board certified. If one were to assume that all of the current total of 63,800 board-certified teachers were still teaching, the NBPTS would be about one-sixth of the way toward achieving this goal. On the other hand, the founders did expect that there would be an ever-increasing number of these accomplished teachers, in sufficient supply that administrators could call on them to perform in leadership roles, and that this cadre would influence the professional development of other teachers. In many places, the current numbers of board-certified teachers and annual applicant and success rates are not sufficient to realize these objectives. However, in a few districts, the numbers are approaching levels likely to be sufficient for the program to have the intended effects. Judgments about the program should be based on a complete examination of its benefits and costs. The other aspects of our evaluation framework all bear on this kind of judgment, so we reserve our overarching conclusions for the final chapter of this report. At this point we draw two conclusions about participation, based on the information that we have reviewed: Conclusion 6-1: Although the number of teachers who have obtained certification is small relative to the population of eligible U.S. teachers, the total has grown since the program began and is now over 63,800. Participation varies significantly by state and district, however; in a few districts, participation rates are approaching levels likely to be sufficient for the program to have the intended effects.
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Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced-Level Certification Programs Conclusion 6-2: States that offer financial incentives for attempting and achieving board certification are likely to have more teachers that apply and succeed in the program. In addition, we note that the existing data about the teachers who have gone through the board-certification process are scant. For example, it is not currently possible to determine what teachers have done after completing the process, what happened to teachers who did not pass the assessment, how many board-certified teachers are currently employed, or where board-certified teachers currently work. We encourage the NBPTS to establish data collection systems that allow for investigation of these issues. Thus we recommend: Recommendation 6-1: The NBPTS should implement and maintain a database of information about applicants and their career paths. This effort should include routine, annual data collection as well as specially designed studies. The data collected should provide information about what teachers have done after going through the certification process, what has happened to teachers who did not pass the assessment, how many board-certified teachers are currently employed, where board-certified teachers currently work, and what jobs they do.