OUR OPINION: Board certification enhances teachers, students, schools

Northeast Mississippi’s 38 teachers with newly announced certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards join rigorously tested and reviewed ranks of their peers nationwide in recognition that they have achieved mastery of content and method in the classroom.

It is a signal honor earned by hard work, testing, demonstration of skills and assessment by peers and experts.

Certification is a years-long process whose tangible benefit for teachers in Mississippi is a $6,000 stipend for 10 years, with recertification required.

The program returns direct intellectual enrichment to schools and students in the classroom with NBCTs.

The 3,557 NBCTs in Mississippi ranks seventh nationwide, and third in per capita certification.

National Board Certification is an advanced teaching credential earned by analysis of teaching context and students’ needs, submission of videos of their teaching, and providing student work samples that demonstrate growth and achievement.

These are the goals:

• A strong command of content.

• The ability to design appropriate learning experiences that advance student learning.

• The use of assessments to inform instructional decision-making.

• Partnerships with colleagues, parents and the community.

A national assessment of Board Certified Teachers has found a disproportionate number of the high-achieving teachers teach in the toughest situations and teach the most difficult subjects, which increases their instructional value.

The National Board’s own studies show that “nearly half” of all its certified teachers work in high-need schools, which perhaps explains Mississippi’s strong showing in numbers of NBCTs.

A similar involvement spills over into shaping policy and in other awards for teaching excellence in demanding situations.

As the 2014 legislative session approaches, discussion appears to be increasing about the possibility of an across-the-board pay raise for teachers, a valid goal.

In relation, what could be done to encourage additional Mississippi teachers meeting minimal requirements to pursue board certification?

Mississippi’s educational difficulties could be susceptible to the highest level of classroom excellence.

The certification process is not for the faint-hearted, but the personal and financial enhancement possible with successful completion becomes an asset.