Conquering National Board Certification (and Why It’s Totally Worth It) (2024)

Conquering National Board Certification (and Why It’s Totally Worth It) (1)

Later this month, thousands of teachers will go online to find out if they have become National Board Certified Teachers. This moment will come after eight months of hard work, and six more months of waiting. They will be nervous, I know, because in November of 2004, I did the same thing.

For me, pursuing National Board Certification was the absolute best professional decision I ever made. It was also one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. In many ways, it was like a long, slow gladiator fight, battling beast after beast until I was the last one standing, bloody and dirty, but victorious.

If you’ve gone through the process, you know what I mean. If you’re considering it, I’m here to tell you that you’re in for a fight, but when you’re done, you’ll be stronger and better, and so glad you did it.

Early in my teaching career, I thought the only way to advance in this profession was with more degrees: a master’s for sure, and possibly a doctorate. Then I attended a conference in Detroit, where I learned about the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), the organization that offers National Board Certification. I fell in love with the idea instantly: Phrases like “the most challenging thing you’ll ever do” and “only 40 percent of candidates pass the first year” had my overachieving inner child positively drooling. But you couldn’t apply without 3 years of teaching experience, and the $2,000 price tag was steep, so I put it on the back burner for later.

Fast-forward to August of 2003. I sent in my application fee, and a few weeks later, my mailman delivered THE BOX. About the size of a briefcase, the box contained a dozen or so large envelopes and instructions for completing my portfolio, which would be due in April of the following year. Although the specific content is different for every certification area (find yours here), portfolio requirements are similar across the board: two video entries of actual teaching practice, one in-depth examination of student work samples, and Documented Accomplishments, where candidates provide evidence of work with families and the community, work as a learner, and work as a collaborator and/or leader.

But that was not all. In addition to the portfolio, my certification would also be based on a 3-hour written exam I’d take in the Spring. It would assess my knowledge in literary analysis, reading and writing instructional theory, and language study; all areas I’m expected to have expertise in as a language arts teacher.

With my work laid out before me, I began. Over the next six months, I read and wrote and thought more deeply than I ever had before. The process was incredibly time-consuming, life-consuming, and at times I couldn’t believe I’d actually paid money to put myself in that position.

What made it so hard? And is it even worth the trouble? In the nine years since I achieved initial certification, I have figured out just what made it so challenging for me. It was four things, really; four things they don’t cover in the instructions.

And yes, it’s definitely worth the trouble.

Without a doubt, earning National Board Certification requires serious immersion in best practices for your content area. But being well-versed in good teaching isn’t enough to get you all the way there. Because what’s really being tested is your ability to fight four massive, intangible beasts that come after you again and again throughout the process. If someone is able to prevail against these four, they’re well within their rights to do a bit of chest-beating when it’s all over.

The Beast of Logistics

Assembling your portfolio requires obsessive attention to detail. The instructions contain page after page of specs that address everything from font size to page length to how much you should enlarge your driver’s license when photocopying it. There are dozens of cover sheets. Dozens of forms to be signed. And everywhere, everywhere, this panic-inducing message: If any of these components are missing or incorrect, your entry will not be scored.

The time it took to me comb through these details may have actually exceeded the time I spent planning and teaching the lessons themselves. What does any of this have to do with teaching? I wondered.

I’ll tell you what it has to do with teaching: Teachers have to pay attention to details. Teaching is not comprised entirely of floating into classrooms, emitting bursts of Rain Man-like brilliance, and floating away again. We have to align our lessons with standards, complete IEPs and gifted service plans, and make sure our credentials are up to date. We need to read about new strategies, keep up with advancements in our field, learn new technologies, and pursue graduate studies. A gifted actor still has to be counted on to learn his lines and show up on time for shoots. A gifted surgeon still needs to follow hospital procedure. Any principal will tell you that a teacher who isn’t able to consistently read and follow instructions is a constant headache. If we are going to call ourselves professionals, details have to matter.

What helped me fight this particular beast was joining a support group, led by two experienced NBCTs. In our monthly meetings, we read and re-read the instructions, discovering the minutiae that could sink us if we weren’t careful. Without this group effort, I surely would have missed something. If you don’t have access to a support group, even finding one other candidate to work with can go a long way. Just don’t try to do it all by yourself.

The Beast of Procrastination

Because certification is self-guided, candidates have to plan and stick to regular periods of work. I’m sure there are some people who manage to pull together everything they need at the last minute, but they are the exception. (They are also probably the same people who have perfect marriages, easy pregnancies, and “don’t need much sleep.”)

This beast is the one that sets National Board Certification apart from graduate degrees. In most graduate programs, students have regular assignments, meetings, and other deadlines that force them to keep up a steady stream of work. Someone who has earned their NBCT did not necessarily have any of that structure, so the credential tells you they were somehow able to manage their time well enough to get everything done, and done well.

My support group was also key to meeting this challenge. Our mentors set “suggested” deadlines for bringing in drafts of our entries – failure to do so had no consequence, but we’d miss the opportunity for feedback and would fall behind. This process can easily be replicated in a smaller group, or even on your own: However you do it, setting mini-deadlines along the way will get you to the end in one piece.

The Beast of Holdups, Delays and Setbacks

Pursuing National Board Certification forces you to keep going long after you think you’ve had enough. Things will go wrong: Cameras will record without sound. Lessons will flop. Students whose work you planned to use will move halfway through the year. You will get sick. Snow days will happen. Setbacks like these will discourage some candidates to the point where they just can’t keep going. If you can, you’re demonstrating a tenacity that sets you apart.

This tenacity becomes especially critical if you don’t certify the first time around. Many candidates do not earn high enough scores to certify in their first year of candidacy. Once they receive this news, they must choose which items to do a second time around – often a combination of some portfolio entries and portions of the written exam. You can “bank” the scores you’d like to keep, then re-do others for a higher score. Sounds simple, but the inner strength it takes to get back on that horse after so much disappointment is incredible. Some think it’s a negative thing to certify in your second or third year; I say those are the people to admire more, because they didn’t give up.

The key to beating this beast is simply knowing it’s there. Just be ready for it. Plan for things to go wrong. Do a lot of trial runs. Consider the first lesson you record to be the first of many. Go into the process fully expecting that you’ll have to re-do some things…

Which brings me to the last beast, the biggest and fiercest one of all.

The Beast of Ego

Among my certification materials was an 80-page booklet of standards that would be used to score my work. These standards scared the crap out of me. The more I read, the more I thought: I don’t do that. I don’t do that. Not that either. Who does all that?

Here’s an example; just one section of one of my sixteen standards: Accomplished teachers facilitate classroom conversation. In these teachers’ classrooms, students can be found engaging in exploratory conversations about texts. Students pay attention to one another’s comments about texts, ask each other questions, challenge one another, defend their individual opinions, and work cooperatively toward reaching consensus or clarifying and understanding differing perspectives about matters of urgency to them and their peers.

It sounded like heaven. And nothing like my classes.

Every standard I read made me feel more and more incompetent. Freaking out one night, I called Lynn, one of my support group mentors. I’m pretty sure I was crying.

Me: These standards. There’s just so much! They’re impossible! I hardly do any of these things!

Lynn: (pause) … So start.

Me: …

Lynn: Start doing some of them. No one does all those things all the time. It’s an ideal. Something we should all be trying to do. If you haven’t been doing them yet, now’s the time to start.

That advice helped more than she knew. I took a breath, stepped away for a day or two, then looked through the standards again and picked a few areas I could work on. Instead of turning my anxiety on the standards themselves, dismissing them as unrealistic, I began to recognize their value. And after wallowing in self-pity because the standards were too hard, I started to get motivated by their near-impossibility. Didn’t I want high standards? What was the alternative? Standards that basically said, Just do what you think is best, and that’ll be good? You’re perfect no matter what? Not really. And hearing Lynn say that no one exhibits these all the time calmed me down. There’s a reason you get half a year to assemble your portfolio: Pulling together your very best work takes a LOT of time.

A few weeks later, I found myself in despair again. This time over the word EVIDENCE. It kept turning up. In every portfolio entry, they kept asking me to point to evidence of student learning.

Evidence? I thought at first. I beg your pardon? Is it not enough to teach with supreme energy and grace?

It sounds strange to me now, but the concept really was baffling at the time. In one video, I had to show myself conducting a whole-class discussion. I did that, and thought I’d really done a good job. But then, in my written analysis, I had to point to specific instances in the video where student learning was evident. And, well…I couldn’t do it. They talked, of course, but did the things they said actually demonstrate that they were reaching my stated objective for the discussion? Not really.

Despite having what I originally thought were great video entries, I ended up re-doing both of mine. Because even though I had already put so much work and time into those lessons, when I started writing up my analysis, I realized I couldn’t point to the kind of evidence I was supposed to have. There was no way to BSthis one. I had to actually get better.

Getting over your own ego is most definitely the biggest challenge of National Board Certification. And it’s the one that makes the biggest difference, too. Because pursuing certification isn’t really about proving what a great teacher you already are; it merely shows you the path to greatness. If you’re able to drop your defenses, set your ego aside and take some good, heavy steps on that path, then…then you’ve earned the right to put the NBCT after your name.

Certificationdid not make me a flawless teacher. What it did was give me a process for making sense of the times when things go wrong. And the urge to make sense of them. And the belief that it’s my responsibility to make sense of them.

And that’s it right there, the reason it was worth it: Above all else, certification made me believe the buck stops with me. If my students don’t learn, it’s on me. Even if they come from chaotic environments – it’s on me to figure out how to reach them. Even if they are chronic absentees – it’s on me to connect with their families and help them devise a plan to improve attendance. Even if I have an unsupportive administration, toxic co-workers, limited supplies. It’s on me. If the air conditioning goes out, if the Internet is down, it’s on me to improvise, to model good character, to lead. Throw bad policy at me — I’ll find a way to teach my students anyway.I know what I need to do.I am the teacher. I am the professional. It’s on me.♦

What is National Board Certification? Issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the certification takes 1 to 3 years to complete and is the highest professional certification a teacher can earn. National Board Certification is offered to educators from pre-K through high school, in just about every subject area, including concentrations like Career and Technical Education, English as a New Language, Physical Education, and Counseling.

Have you considered pursuing National Board certification? What questions or concerns do you have? If you are already an NBCT, tell us about your experience. Would you recommend the process to others? How has it impacted you?

Are you a candidate who needs support? Join our NBCT Support Facebook community, where other candidates come together to share experiences, answer questions, and give advice!

Don’t leave empty-handed!
Join my mailing list and never miss another post. You’ll get weekly tips, tools, and inspiration — in quick, bite-sized packages — all geared towardmaking your teaching more effective and joyful. To thank you, I’ll send you a free copy of my new e-booklet, 20 Ways to Cut Your Grading Time in Half. I look forward to getting to know you better!

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Conquering National Board Certification (and Why It’s Totally Worth It) (2024)


Why is national board certification important? ›

Opens Professional Doors

Board-certified teachers are often given opportunities to have an impact way beyond their classrooms. experts, they are often sought out for leadership positions in their schools and districts. In significant numbers, NBCTs serve as team leaders, department chairs, and instructional coaches.

What is a good score on Nbct? ›

A score of 2.75 or higher on each component or part of Component 1 will mean you demonstrated at least clear evidence of accomplished teaching, and you are in an excellent position to earn National Board Certification.

What could be some of the advantages for national certification? ›

Proven to increase your knowledge, efficiency and earning potential, a national certification gives you a competitive advantage in the workplace. A national certification is a professional endorsem*nt of your competency and a commitment to continuing your education in the field you're certified in.

What percentage of people pass national boards? ›

The current certification rate for National Board Certification is 71%. This rate comprises over 20,700 educators who have achieved National Board Certification since 2017, out of over 29,000 candidates who have completed the assessment during that same period*.

What is the point of being a national board certified teacher? ›

National Board Certification is the most respected professional certification available in education and provides numerous benefits to teachers, students and schools. It was designed to develop, retain, and recognize accomplished teachers and to generate ongoing improvement in schools nationwide.

What are the 4 components of national board certification? ›

  • COMPONENT 1: Content Knowledge. ...
  • COMPONENT 2: Differentiation in Instruction. ...
  • COMPONENT 3: Teaching Practice and Learning Environment. ...
  • COMPONENT 4: Effective and Reflective Practitioner.

How many teachers in the US are National Board certified? ›

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards announced today that 2,814 teachers became National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) and 8,064 teachers maintained their certification in the 2021-2022 school year.

Do you need a bachelors to be a teacher in Florida? ›

Anyone applying for teaching certification in Florida must complete a bachelor's degree and an educator preparation program. First-time college students can select from a list of state-approved educator preparation programs throughout the state that offer both in-person and online learning options.

How much is each component worth in nbct? ›

The National Board assessment is grouped into four components. With each of the four components costing $475, the total certification cost is $1,900. Candidates can pay for and submit each component separately, effectively spreading the cost out over three years.

What is the importance of certification? ›

A high-value certification ensures that you maintain a high level of knowledge and skill in your profession. Certifications also help show that you are committed to mastering your skills and knowledge in your field.

What is the purpose of a certification? ›

Certifications are designated credentials earned by an individual to verify their legitimacy and competence to perform a job. Your certification is typically displayed as a document stating that as a professional, you've been trained, educated and are prepared to meet a specific set of criteria for your role.

How is national boards scored? ›

The National Board uses a 12-point rubric score scale for all constructed response items and portfolio components. The rubric score scale is based on four primary levels of performance (Levels 4, 3, 2, and 1), with plus (+) and minus (-) variations at each level. See Scoring Guide for detail.

What is the pass rate for Nbct MOC? ›

Based on surveys, the average time to complete MOC is 60 hours. Over 99% of NBCTs successfully demonstrate they are maintaining certification.

How do teachers benefit from Nbpts certification? ›

Teachers who achieve National Board Certification have met high standards through study, expert evaluation, self-assessment, and peer review. Strengthens your practice. Research shows that candidates for National Board Certification demonstrate significant improvement in their teaching practice.

Is the national board certification like the edTPA? ›

edTPA is very similar to the assessment undertaken by candidates for National Board Certification, but is scaled to the preservice level.

What skills or attributes you believe are necessary to be an outstanding teacher? ›

Some qualities of a good teacher include skills in communication, listening, collaboration, adaptability, empathy and patience. Other characteristics of effective teaching include an engaging classroom presence, value in real-world learning, exchange of best practices and a lifelong love of learning.

Why have teachers salaries become controversial in educational reform? ›

Why have teachers' salaries become controversial in educational reform? Reformers want teachers with high student test scores to earn merit pay. Which argument is used to advocate for performance assessment? Performance tests demonstrate how students apply knowledge.

How much do national board certified teachers make in Texas? ›

NBCTs with a recognized designation will generate between $3-$9k for their district depending on the socioeconomic status of the students and the campus' rural status. 90% or more of the allotment funds generated must be spent on teacher compensation on the campus where the designated teacher works.

How do I write a national board certification? ›

Then follow these tips to make your writing clear and concise.
  1. Tip #1— Edit for content before using abbreviations. ...
  2. Tip #2— Look for redundancies. ...
  3. Tip #3— Use smaller words and shorter phrases. ...
  4. Tip #4— Use numbers rather than writing out their names. ...
  5. Tip #5— Write well if you are an English teacher.
Jan 27, 2019

Which organization designed the National Board certification? ›

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization in the United States. Founded in 1987, NBPTS develops and maintains advanced standards for educators and offers a national, voluntary assessment, National Board Certification, based on the NBPTS Standards.

Which state has the most National Board certified teachers? ›

The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards has announced that North Carolina continues to lead the nation with teachers who hold national board certification, with 399 teachers achieving this demanding certification in 2020-21.

Is there a national teacher shortage in the US? ›

There are more teachers now than before the pandemic – but certain kinds of teachers are still in short supply. Nationally, "we have more teachers on a numeric basis than we did before the pandemic, and we have fewer students" due to enrollment drops, says Chad Aldeman, a researcher who studies teacher shortages.

What is the largest national teacher union? ›

The National Education Association (NEA) is the largest teachers union in the U.S. with 3 million members.

Is a bachelor's degree enough to be a teacher? ›

In California, the minimum education requirement for teacher certification is a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. You must also complete a teacher preparation program approved by the CTC. An approved program provides both educational curriculum and fieldwork.

Can you teach without a teaching certificate Florida? ›

Do I need a certificate to teach in Florida? Yes, educators wanting to work in Florida public schools need a teaching certificate. Many charter schools and private schools also require teacher certification.

Do you need a degree to be a teacher USA? ›

Earn an Undergraduate Degree

In fact, all states do require K-12 public school teachers to have at least a bachelor's degree, specifically in elementary education for kindergarten and elementary school teachers. Requirements for the type of undergraduate degree you hold vary from school system to school system.

What core propositions characterize National Board certified teachers? ›

Proposition 1: Teachers are committed to students and their learning. Proposition 2: Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students. Proposition 3: Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.

How much is the NBPTS stipend in Wisconsin? ›

Advantages for Wisconsin Educators

In addition, Wisconsin educators who received NBPTS certification can: Obtain reimbursem*nt for costs of up to $2,000 personally incurred to achieve certification. Receive annual grants of $2,500 or $5,000 for the remaining duration of the NBPTS certificate.

What is the meaning of Nbct? ›

National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) are highly accomplished educators who meet high and rigorous standards set by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) .

What are the two types of certifications? ›

There are two main types of certificate programs: undergraduate and graduate. Undergraduate certificate programs are designed for students who have a high school diploma or GED. They provide basic career skills that allow students to obtain entry-level positions within their field.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of certification? ›

Advantages and Disadvantages of Certifications
  • Advantage: recognition and credit.
  • Advantage: structured learning.
  • Advantage: integrated and holistic approach.
  • Disadvantage: arrogance.
  • Disadvantage: biases.
  • Common problem: shortcuts.
Aug 21, 2019

How valuable are certifications? ›

In many situations, certifications can be better than degrees for several reasons. Certificates often match current standards better than degrees, which is especially important in fast-paced fields like information technology (IT.)

What must a person do in order to earn a certification? ›

Earning a license or certification involves meeting standards, which often includes passing an exam. Licenses and certifications are usually valid for a limited term and must be renewed periodically. An employer may require either credential.

Why is certification and accreditation important? ›

An accreditation will often legitimize an organization within an industry. Certifications, on the other hand, are provided to the individual. By becoming certified, professionals gain an objective measure of their competency and establish authority within a specific industry.

What does being certified mean? ›

approved by an official organization to do a particular job because you have successfully completed its examination and proved that you have the necessary training and qualifications: All certified dental assistants have been certified by the Dental Assisting National Board. a certified accountant.

What is the average score national board certification? ›

Q:What scores do I need to achieve National Board Certification? A: You must earn a minimum unweighted average score of 1.75 on Component 1 (i.e., the assessment center section). The minimum score requirement on this section is based on unweighted rubric scores, not weighted scores.

What is scoring guide? ›

Scoring guides assign points to different levels of student performance. They are useful because they allow students to earn points for partial mastery of standards, and they ensure that students who earn full points have mastered the relevant standard or standards rather than simply guessed the correct answer.

How many teachers in the US are national board certified? ›

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards announced today that 2,814 teachers became National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) and 8,064 teachers maintained their certification in the 2021-2022 school year.

What happens if you fail MOC exam? ›

Physicians who are unsuccessful on the traditional, 10-year MOC exam can re-take the exam during any future exam administration. There is no restriction on the total number of opportunities for re-examination. Physicians earn 20 Medical Knowledge MOC points for every attempt of the traditional, 10-year MOC exam.

What are some benefits of having a national certification? ›

Proven to increase your knowledge, efficiency and earning potential, a national certification gives you a competitive advantage in the workplace. A national certification is a professional endorsem*nt of your competency and a commitment to continuing your education in the field you're certified in.

What is the benefit of board certification? ›

Board certification serves as a validation of a physician's expertise, and through recertification, physicians can stay updated about medical innovations and practices, and expand their knowledge base.

What national certification means? ›

National certification means a competency based certification awarded to those individuals who meet educational and training requirements and who pass the appropriate examination that is administered by a national non-profit credentialing agency such as American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of ...

How do teachers benefit from NBPTS certification quizlet? ›

How do teachers benefit from NBPTS certification? Jobs are more easily obtained if moving to another state. The Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) sets standards for teaching skills and knowledge at all grade levels and subject areas.

What is the national certification exam? ›

National Certification Examination (NCE) Resources

The NBCRNA administers the National Certification Exam (NCE) to measure the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for entry-level nurse anesthesia practitioners. The NCE is a variable-length computerized adaptive test for entry into nurse anesthesia practice.

What is national board certification Texas? ›

National Board Certification is a voluntary advanced professional certification for PreK-12 educator that identifies teaching expertise through a performance-based, peer-reviewed assessment. More than 125,000 teachers across all 50 states have achieved Board certification.

How many years is a National Certificate? ›

The National N-Diploma is a three year post-matric qualification consisting of a theoretical part (N4 – N6) and two years industry experience in the Electrical Engineering field.

Is a higher National Certificate equivalent to a degree? ›

Higher National Certificates (HNC) are Level 4 and are equivalent to the first year of a university degree.

Is National Certification Corporation legit? ›

The National Certification Corporation (NCC) is a not-for-profit organization that provides a national certification program for nurses, physicians, and other licensed healthcare professionals.

What is the best measure of a teacher's success or failure? ›

Teachers' effectiveness is often measured by their ability to improve student standardized achievement test scores in core academic subjects, such as math and reading.

What is one of the main benefits of a teacher joining a state or national teachers union? ›

Legal Support for Teachers

For example, teachers' unions provide legal representation to teachers who become involved in some sort of lawsuit arising from the course of their employment. Unions also provide teachers legal representation if they face some sort of disciplinary process.

What is the hardest national exam? ›

Recent Update: IIT-JEE, UPSC CSE, and GATE are among the world's most difficult exams. In the ranking, the IIT JEE test is ranked first in India and second in the globe.

How many questions are on the national certification exam? ›

You have one attempt and one hour to answer the thirty questions so don't start the preview until you have the time to complete it.

How many questions are on the national exam? ›

The practice exam has 100 questions (compared to the 180 on the national exam) and is based on the 6 practice domains covered in the national exam.

What is the difference between board certified and board qualified? ›

Individuals who are Board Qualified are not members of ABFAS but are “in progress.” Board Certified status indicates that the podiatric surgeon has passed the Part II examination(s), holds hospital privileges, and has an active license. Individuals with Board Certified status are members of ABFAS.

What is the difference between certified and non certified boards? ›

Ultimately, board certification is a symbol that a doctor has undergone additional training in their area of specialty, proven a high level of expertise in that specialty, and are therefore better qualified to practice in that specialty compared to a non-certified doctor.


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