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The National Board For Professional Teaching Standards Certification
by Kathleen Carpenter

Inspired by the report, A Nation at Risk, in 1986, the Carnegie Task Force on Teaching as a Profession issued its own pivotal report, A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century. Its leading recommendation called for the establishment of a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Established one year later, the Board is composed of 63 directors, most of whom are classroom teachers.

The mission of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is to establish high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do; to develop and operate a national, voluntary system to assess and certify teachers who meet these standards; and to advance related education reforms for the purpose of improving student learning in American schools. The National Board is dedicated to bringing teaching the respect and recognition this important work deserves.

The National Board Certification is offered on a voluntary basis, complementing, not replacing, state licensing. While state licensing systems set entry-level standards for beginning teachers, National Board Certification has established advanced standards for experienced teachers. Currently the certification is offered to 21 fields from early childhood through secondary level, with several more to be phased in during the next two years.

In order to qualify for NBPTS certification, educators complete a rigorous process of portfolio entries and assessment center exercises.

The portfolio consists of several different entries, each of which asks for direct evidence of some aspect of the teacher's work and an analytical commentary on that evidence. There are four different classroom-based entries, two of which ask candidates to videotape classroom interactions, and two of which ask candidates to collect student work of particular kinds. In all four classroom-based entries, candidates are required to write a detailed analysis of the teaching reflected in the videotape or student work.

The assessment center portion of the process consists of a full day of assessment exercises that are focused on pedagogical content knowledge. This written assessment asks candidates to respond to specific prompts, some of which may be based on stimulus materials that are sent out to candidates well in advance of the assessment center date. The exercises may be simulations of situations to which teachers typically must respond or explorations of particular questions on pedagogical content topics and issues.

Incentives for pursuit of the NBPTS cerfication vary widely from state to state, and among school districts. Some offer subsidies to pay all or part of the $2,300 application fee. Others offer salaries enhancements. Information about specific incentives by state is available at

The eligibility requirements to be a candidate for National Board Certification are: A.possess a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution; B.have completed three years of successful teaching at one or more early childhood, elementary, middle or secondary schools; C.hold a valid state teaching license for each of those three years (if required).

For more information about NBPTS certification, visit their web site at