For the past 15 years, the U.S. education establishment has urged teachers to seek national certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), and has recommended that these supposedly master teachers become eligible for substantial state and local bonuses. In 1996, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future advocated that the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the NBPTS become two halves of a system whereby education professionals (including the teacher unions) would control more tightly entrance to teaching and rewards within the profession.
Critics pointed out that there have been no studies showing that NBPTS-certified teachers are more adept at raising student achievement than are non-NBPTS-certified teachers. One of them, Professor John Stone, looked at value-added data of the 16 NBPTS-certified teachers in Tennessee for whom such data were available and found that achievement gains for students taught by the nationally certified teachers were no greater than for students taught by non- NBPTS-certified teachers. The Education Commission of the States (ECS) then assembled a panel of “experts” to find fault with the Stone study. The tax-funded ECS, which has promoted NBPTS participation, has never paid for a single study to check on the NBPTS’ many claims of success.
Meanwhile, the Bush Administration has made a $5 million grant to an emerging American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), which is seeking to set up a credentialing system that will be based on teachers’ grasp of knowledge and their ability to impart what they know to their students, in verifiable ways. Healthy competition in teacher certification could result.
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