For the fourth consecutive year, Washington has the second-highest number of new National Board Certified teachers, thanks partly to eight teachers in the Bethel School District who reached the professional pinnacle.
Numbers released in January by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards show that in 2012, Washington gained 575 board-certified teachers (NBCTs). Only North Carolina added more.
Washington also is the fourth-ranked state in total number of NBCTs (6,817).
Board certification, which education officials describe as a “rigorous” process, requires teachers to submit a four-part portfolio and a six-exercise content and pedagogy assessment. The 10 entries document a teacher’s success in the classroom as evidenced by students’ learning. The portfolio is then assessed by a national panel of peers.
“I’ve been a strong supporter of the National Board program for years,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn. “All the certified teachers I’ve talked to said that the process was great. It made them look deeply into their teaching habits. Many of them became better teachers. And that results in better students.”
The neighboring Bethel and Eatonville school districts have a combined 66 board-certified teachers.
Bethel’s total swelled to 62 total with the eight who achieved the status last year – Shannon Porter, who teaches science, Patricia Penner (science), Ryan Kennedy (health), Kristin Matheny (generalist), Teresa Hernandez (reading and language arts), Megan Gerke (generalist), Marianne Floyd (science), and Anne Chappell (music).
Among the schools in the Bethel District, Graham-Kapowsin High has the most NBCTs with 13. Bethel high School and Nelson Elementary School are next with seven each. Other schools with two or more are Thompson Elementary, Shining Mountain Elementary and Spanaway Middle School with four apiece, Liberty Middle School and Frederickson Elementary School (three), and Camas Prairie, Clover Creek, Nachel Trail and Roy elementary schools and Elk Plain School of Choice (two).
The Eatonville district’s NBCTs include, Tira Hancock, who earned her certification in 2002 in chemistry, Traci Eccles (certification in 2006 in English language arts), Alyse Fritz (certification in 2010 in library media), and Amanda Adamchak (certification in 2011 as a generalist/early childhood).
Hancock, Eccles and Fritz work at Eatonville High School. Adamchak is at Eatonville Elementary School.
Dorn said the certification process will help with the new teacher evaluation system that will begin this year.
“The new system will bring the same demands and analysis for reflection,” he said. “NBCTs represent the very best of our profession and will lead us into the next era of reform.”
A joint effort of state government, the Washington Education Association (WEA), which is the statewide teachers union, and the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession has led to a rapid increase in NBCTs in Washington, officials said.
“Washington is a widely recognized leader in the National Board Certification movement,” said WEA president Mary Linquist. “I’m proud of the educators who have stepped up to the rigorous process.
Board-certified teachers “are active leaders in improving public education,” Lindquist added.
In 2007, the Legislature approved legislation that awards a $5,000 bonus to each NBCT. Teachers can receive an additional $5,000 bonus if they teach in “challenging” schools, which are defined as having a certain percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches (50 percent for high schools, 60 percent for middle schools and 70 percent for elementary schools).
According to Dorn’s office, the number of new certified teachers in Washington climbed steadily each year from 2002 to 2010, peaking at 1,272 in 2010. Since then, the numbers have been 945 in 2011 and 575 last year.
The school districts with the most new certifications last year were Bellevue (34), Seattle (28), Lake Washington (25), Evergreen (15) and Spokane (11).
Thirty-eight of the 39 counties in Washington have at least one teacher with board certification.
Nationally, the number of certified teachers is approximately 3 percent of the teaching force. Almost half of the nation’s NBCTs teach in high-need schools, and 15 percent are certified in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)-related areas.
According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, research shows higher student achievement in classes taught by board-certified teachers than by non-certified teachers. Those gains are equivalent to an extra one to two months in school, officials said.
In Washington, legislators “support for high-quality teaching is paying off,” Lindquist said. “Whether it’s incentive pay for board-certified teachers or funding our state’s new teacher evaluation system, investing in quality teachers is good for our students.”