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24 Articles Categorized in "National Board Certification"

Maren Johnson | Assessment, Education Policy, National Board Certification, Science, Teacher Leadership | March 16, 2014

Want innovation in the classroom? Get teachers involved in Policy

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by Maren Johnson

I spent the weekend in Washington DC at the Teaching and Learning 2014 Conference. It was dazzling. Famous and thought provoking speakers, incorporation of art and music, huge diversity in education viewpoints and experience.

With all the hubbub over the big names at the conference, what I'm heading home thinking about is a session led by a middle school science teacher from Washington state. From the small town of Cheney, no less.

Teacher Tammie Schrader's session was titled, "Coding in the Classroom." I went into the session expecting to learn a bit about coding itself, and perhaps a bit about how to use coding to teach concepts in life science. I came out of the session thinking about innovation and education policy.

Tammie started out the session by introducing herself and her classroom programs. She has been facilitating student coding in her science classes for several years now. That, itself, is innovative, but not extraordinarily unusual.

Then Tammie started talking about education policy. My ears perked up. What was going to be the tie-in here? I've been to sessions on innnovative instructional methods. I've been to sessions on education policy. I have rarely been to a session incorporating both.

Tammie's point? She wanted to do cutting edge things in her classroom. In order to be free to do these things, she needed to be released from some of the usual considerations of what might be expected in a classroom. There were a few non-negotiables, however. She would still need to assess; she would still need to show student growth. She wanted to assess and show student growth in a way that would fit her classroom. The solution? Get involved in policy. Tammie has done this, in a big way, at state and national levels.

I thought to myself, "This woman's message needs to get out there." So there I was, like the paparazzi, taking photos and tweeting. Not that Tammie isn't already well known in many education circles, but I wanted to do my part!

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The policy involvment has allowed Tammie's innovative classroom work to become systemic. Tammie has worked on state assessment committees and on designing frameworks for Career and Technical Education. She helped write the state science test. Because she knows what students are expected to do, she's not ignoring the state science standards or the Next Generation Science Standards. She's not letting all of that go. She's just helping to shape policy and then use it in a way that helps herself and other teachers be innovative in their classrooms.

Tammie has spent time talking to policy makers at all levels. Having a teacher involved in these areas allows education policy to encourage innovation as opposed to stifling it. Want innovation in the classroom? Get teachers involved in policy.

CSTP--Staff | Education, National Board Certification, Professional Development | November 27, 2013

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants - Gratitude from an NBCT


The following is a guest post by NBCT Shelly Milne who serves as the teacher librarian at Cashmere Middle School. Shelly is the current president of the Washington Language Arts Council, and this summer she was part of a team that created and presented a 4-Day Common Core Jump Start for Washington Educators. 


In August my grandson, Dylan was preparing to start kindergarten. His family had just purchased a new house. Since they were busy with renovations, I was lucky enough to get to take him to buy school supplies. Dylan and I strolled enthusiastically down the school supply aisles at Target filling our cart with paper, glue sticks, pens, and the promise of a year filled with new discoveries. As we filled the cart, it occurred to me that after twenty-six years of teaching, I was just as excited as Dylan to start the school year. Instead of getting bogged down with many challenges facing today’s educators, I looked forward to the promise of a year filled with new discoveries just like Dylan starting his first year of kindergarten.

However, before I achieved my National Board Certification eight years ago, I was feeling isolated and powerless in my profession. A feeling I wrote about at a writing retreat funded by the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession.  At the writing retreat and other professional development activities I attended after I certified, I finally felt like my voice mattered. I also realized that there were others who had gone before me on this NB journey who were ready, able, and dedicated to helping me develop my leadership skills. When I made the shift from feeling powerless to feeling empowered and supported, everything in my world changed.

Last spring as I organized my professional growth experiences for my Renewal Portfolio, I reflected on the many leadership opportunities that marked my growth as an educator since becoming National Board Certified in 2004.  As I put my renewal portfolio together I asked myself an important question, “What made each of these experiences so beneficial to my professional growth?” One answer bubbled to the surface. These professional growth opportunities had provided me with the chance to learn, grow, plan, collaborate, stretch, work, and create with talented, dedicated, forward-thinking professionals. More than anything else, I concluded, as I reflected on my eight years as an NBCT, I was grateful for the people I had worked with and the opportunities presented to me.

It’s for that reason that I’ve already started encouraging my daughter, a first year teacher in Washington, to start planning when she will begin her National Board Portfolio.  Teachers need support and inspiration to grow and the National Board network provides members with both. Sir Isaac Newton knew that when he stated, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” I want my daughter and other young educators in Washington to have the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of innovators in education just like I was able to do. The National Board provides a support network that encourages growth, leadership, innovation, and reflection.

In this season of gratitude, I would like to thank all of the giants who have made this journey so meaningful to me. Thank you to all of you who have sent me an email about an opportunity available for NBCTs! Thank you to all of you who sat beside me in in-service classes and shared your ideas, hopes, and dreams! Thank you for organizing events, making travel arrangements, presenting, and planning. I would like to express my gratitude for educators who have inspired, led, and pushed me to reach higher, dream bigger, and see further. As I enter the next ten years as an NBCT, I am mindful of the giants who paved the way for me and aware of my responsibility to provide inspiration, insight, and hope for the next generation of NBCTs in Washington State. 

Maren Johnson | Mentoring, National Board Certification, Professional Development | November 17, 2013

The National Board Wait


by Maren Johnson

The Wait. It can be stressful. One National Board candidate-in-waiting said a few days ago: "Just rip the band-aid off!" A renewal candidate emailed his thoughts in the week before renewal decision release--here's his exact quote: "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggghhhh!"

It's a bit like Christmas Eve, but you don't know what kind of present you will be getting in the morning. All across the country right now, National Board candidates are waiting for score release, the day they find out if they certified, or did not certify yet.

National Board Certification has a cycle. First candidates make the decision to pursue the rigorous certification--it's extraordinary professional development, but also a lot of work! The next phase of the cycle? Completing a portfolio based on a set of national teaching standards. Finally being able to hit "submit" on the ePortfolio is a big moment. Taking the assessment center exercises can be intense, and often happens near the end of the school year. The shared experiences throughout this cycle contribute to National Board teachers having something of a group identity--when meeting for the first time, they know they have a background in common!

We are now in the waiting portion of the cycle. The wait is a unique time. A few years ago, in the last few weeks of waiting to find out if I certified, someone pointed out to me that adults don't always get as many opportunities for anticipation as kids do--and waiting to find out the results of National Board Certification is one, so try to enjoy the period of anticipation! It wasn't bad advice.

Then, of course, the ever-cheerful candidate support providers weigh in with a chirpy, "It's a three year process!" And it is a three year process. And while it may sound trite, simply submitting a complete National Board portfolio is in and of itself a huge accomplishment--it's almost impossible not to develop as a reflective practitioner just by pursuing certification. Candidates who do not certify the first time face disappointment, but often those who decide to continue a second or third time report even greater professional growth. Score release is a time to congratulate those who certify. It's also a time to support those who do not certify in providing more evidence next time if they wish to continue.

So there is a cycle, and with National Board 3.0, that cycle is going to be changing. What will that look like exactly? Well, we should be finding out more this upcoming year. For the moment, however? Let's put our thoughts towards the candidates, the individuals who have worked so hard this past year. Good luck to all those current candidates-in-waiting!


Maren Johnson | Education Policy, National Board Certification | April 1, 2013

Just a Tweak? Educator Effectiveness and the Evergreen Effect


Evergreen EffectBy Maren Johnson

Educator effectiveness is where it’s at right now in Washington state. Student teachers are currently filming themselves and analyzing student learning for the edTPA (teacher performance assessment). We have a challenging ProTeach evidence-based assessment for teachers trying to get their professional certificate. Approximately 13% of the teachers in our state are National Board certified. In addition to all of this, we have a new teacher principal evaluation system that is currently being piloted and will go into effect next school year.

Against the backdrop of all these educator effectiveness programs, last week Chad Aldeman, with an organization named Education Sector, released a report titled, “The Evergreen Effect: Washington’s Poor Evaluation System Revealed.” You can read a short summary blog post or the full report. When teachers and administrators across our state are working hard right now to get a new evaluation system up and running for next year, such a report deserves a closer look.

Mr. Aldeman starts by painting the picture of five elementary schools in Pasco. Aldeman talks about how the students perform poorly on state tests while the teachers, despite the low test scores, are almost all evaluated as satisfactory. My fellow blogger Tom White wrote more about this. What does Aldeman not mention? These particular schools in Pasco have 50-70% of their students learning English--some of the highest percentages of English language learners in the state. Our state tests are given exclusively in English—clearly students who do not speak English are going to be at a huge disadvantage. Giving teachers poor evaluations because their English-learning students do not perform well on tests in English is not going to improve student learning!

Maren Johnson | National Board Certification, Professional Development | February 24, 2013

National Board cohort goes on a Road Trip


by Maren Johnson

We set out in a big red van with a fiery primary school teacher at the wheel. Watch out! This teacher sometimes uses her van to haul her miniature horse, but today, she hauled us, the local National Board cohort. Our destination? WEA Home Stretch, an opportunity for National Board candidates to give and receive feedback on an entry and prepare for the assessment center exercises. The intrepid candidates from our local cohort have only a short time left before their final deadline.

We picked up a math teacher hanging out alongside the highway and we were on our way. Oops, we're missing the band teacher, but not to worry, we finally found him on the ferry. We drove over hill and dale, canal and bridge, and then set sail on the 6:25 am boat across the Puget Sound.

Maren Johnson | National Board Certification, Professional Development, Science, Weblogs | January 6, 2013

Writing about Teaching


Way back, when I signed up to be a teacher, and a science teacher at that, I never imagined the amount of writing I was going to be doing. Yes, I expected to write some curriculum, student assessments, and the like, but I never really contemplated writing about teaching.

Mark Gardner | Assessment, Current Affairs, Education, Education Policy, Life in the Classroom, National Board Certification, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership | December 9, 2012

The Time to Do the Right Work


Ship in a bottleAs a writing teacher, one of my greatest struggles involves getting kids to understand the writing process. Writing can be frustrating, arduous work. Understandably, then, when a kid puts the last period on the last sentence in the last paragraph, the impulse then is to put down the pen or click "print" and pass that piece on to the teacher.

As adults, we know that the last period is not the finish line, and that often the toughest work begins when the writing is "finished." The act of meaningful revision--the analysis of effectiveness, the cutting and splicing of sentences, the refining of vivid vocabulary--that formidable work often makes the first stages of writing seem simple. We know, though, that the difference between mediocre and exceptional comes with the time invested in revising, polishing, and refining. It is hard work. It is the right work to do, and it takes time. If that work is skimped upon or shirked, the end product will not have achieved its full potential.

When I had the opportunity to present to the Gates Foundation last week, the other presenters and I never met ahead of time to coordinate our message--yet the same point resonated loud and clear: the new evaluation system is the right work to do to improve teaching, schools, and student learning. 

And the corollary to that point: doing this work will take time.

Mark Gardner | Assessment, Current Affairs, Education, Education Policy, Life in the Classroom, National Board Certification, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership | December 8, 2012

The Right Work


As some of you might have seen on Facebook, this past Thursday, December 6th, I had the privilege and opportunity to offer a short presentation and serve on a discussion panel for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Education Pathways meeting.

IMG_1558In the audience were names attached to some of most important and influential groups in public education in the state of Washington--and beyond, since also present were Ron Thorpe, President and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and Washington's own Andy Coons, who serves as the Chief Operating Officer of NBTPS. Walking into a room with leadership from OSPI, the Gates Foundation, the Association of Washington School Principals, CSTP, and numerous other organizations, I was quick to feel intimidated. After all, my main thought during my drive to Seattle was about whether my ninth graders were behaving for the sub--nothing quite so heady as the future of statewide policy.

My comfort zone is much more intimate with much clearer roles: When I walk into my own classroom, I am the expert, I am the authority. It's not that I wield power like a tyrant over my domain, but to those fourteen- and fifteen-year olds, I am the voice they are to listen to, heed, seek for advice, and learn from. I am the teacher: what I have to say matters.

In my eleven years of teaching, as I've ventured little by little into the world of education policy, there are many times when I find myself in a room filled with nicely pressed suits (and me wearing my one pair of decent slacks) feeling just the opposite way as I do in front of my classroom. I think to myself: I am just a teacher. Will what I say matter?

Maren Johnson | National Board Certification | November 25, 2012

Thinking about those NBCTs



by Maren Johnson

Teachers.  Great teachers.  Lots of them.  Thousands of them, literally, all across Washington state.  What do I think of when I think of National Board Certification?  I think of all those effective teachers, in all those classrooms, teaching all those students in our state.  This week on Stories from School, we are celebrating National Board Certified teachers and candidates with a series of blog posts.  So what does National Board Certification mean to me?

1. Deprivatized practice:  As a candidate it was a new experience for me to share my classroom videos and writing very publicly with a group of teachers I did not know particularly well (or at least I didn’t know them very well at first), and I became a better teacher because of it!

2. Teachers supporting other teachers: Teacher support is the heart and soul of the National Board process.  In my district, one candidate said to another as our cohort meeting started last week: "I came to this meeting today because I wanted to watch your video!"  In another district, a retake candidate wrote after finding out her scores, “I’ll tell you what was a big motivating factor when I was feeling terrible after learning my results. The response of NBCTs.  I wasn’t entirely convinced before, but now I know this is a community I very much want to be a part of.  Every single person I know who is National Board certified has offered to help me redo my portfolio. Every single one.”  While the response this candidate received was extraordinary, without a doubt NBCTs are as a group generally very helpful to other teachers.  

Maren Johnson | National Board Certification, Professional Development | September 18, 2012

Hope and Fear: New National Board Candidates


by Maren Johnson

Hope and Fear: New National Board Candidates

One of the projects I am most excited about this year is facilitating a group of National Board candidates. We have never actually had a National Board cohort in my district before (we are a bit small and rural), but this year we have a healthy sized group--Whoo-hoo!  Even a teacher from a neighboring district is joining us.

We started our first meeting with a "Hope and Fear" protocol for setting group norms that I got from one of the expert National Board trainers in our state.  Participants individually wrote their hopes and fears for the National Board process, shared them, then together came up with norms that would help facilitate the hopes and prevent the fears.

Rob | Education, Education Policy, Life in the Classroom, Mentoring, National Board Certification, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership | December 29, 2011

A New Role


By Rob

Some time ago I was struggling to set up procedures during my literacy instruction.  I was attempting to meet with a guided reading group while the reminder of my class was engaged independently in a meaningful activity.  For some students the “independent” activity was a too challenging and they needed support.  For other students it was too easy and they were finishing early.  Other students had difficulty remaining on task and caused disruptions.  These are the challenges of a novice teacher.

All things considered I was doing pretty well but I knew it could be done better.  But I wasn’t sure how.  I was building the boat as I was crossing the ocean.

I spoke with some other teachers and we shared the same struggles.  After I confided in my principal I found this “struggle” reflected in my evaluation.  Prior to that evaluators found little to criticize.  I regretted opening up my practice.

Travis Wittwer | Education, Life in the Classroom, Mentoring, National Board Certification | December 18, 2011

It's the Principal of the Matter


Picture 1By Travis

Principals are near useless. Near…I would not be so mean as to say totally. I know they serve a purpose. But, hey, let’s be honest. How often is your principal in your classroom? If you are lucky, it is twice a year for the district mandated formal observation. Principals do not teach classes so how could a principal possibly understand life in your classroom? They cannot relate. When seen in the big picture, principals do not do much to impact instruction, and as such, are near useless.

However, my principal is not. Lisa teaches.

Travis Wittwer | Current Affairs, Education Policy, National Board Certification, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership | November 23, 2011

What NBCTs Mean for Washington


As our way to recognize and celebrate the National Board score release this weekend, our NBCT/Bloggers shared a bit about what being a National Board Certified Teacher has meant for them, and for our state. The process of becoming National Board Certified involves hundreds of planning hours and demonstrating best practices in teaching. Those who recently certified had an additional stress of a delay in score results due to a computer server glitch.

With the glitch solved, and over a thousand new NBCTs to join them in Washington state, we offer our congratulations and invite you to read on and be inspired by what our bloggers have said about how being National Board Certified is making a difference for teachers in our state.

Mark Gardner | Education Policy, National Board Certification, Professional Development | January 26, 2010

It's not (just) about the bonus


338qMr  By Mark

Let me begin by clarifying the title of this post: I am beyond appreciative that Washington is one of the states in the union which recognizes the achievement of National Board Certification by awarding an annual bonus to NBCTs. I am eternally grateful for that bonus...and I feel, no I know, that I earned it. I know I am an infinitely better teacher than I was because the process helped me reflect, analyze the effectiveness of my instructional decisions, and examine with a more critical eye whether my students are learning what they need to learn.

But let me trace the ripples caused by the Washington legislature's decision to reward my efforts (and the efforts of hundreds of other NBCTs). While some may see that as just a change in my paycheck, it is much, much more than that.

The first ripple? Earning the bonus meant I could quit my job. My night job, that is. Oh, and my weekend job, too.

Mark Gardner | Current Affairs, Education, National Board Certification | October 26, 2009

Governor Gregoire Honored by NBPTS


Sw_RainierAboveTrees_sa03188 News tidbit: Washington's Governor Christine Gregoire has been recognized by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards with a leadership award for her support of educators and NBPTS certification in the state of Washington.  Read here for more details.

Considering the tremendous growth in numbers of NBCTs in Washington, as well as the increased support for NB Certification from OSPI, WEA and CSTP, this recognition of Governor Gregoire ought to also be seen as a recognition of the efforts of many teachers, administrators, and policy makers in cultivating teacher-leadership and even more effective instruction in the state of Washington.

Speaking of policy leaders, make sure to check back later this week to see our guest bloggers, Senator Rosemary McAuliffe (1st District) and Senator Eric Oemig (45th district) Chair and Vice Chair respectively of the Early Learning and K-12 Committee.

Travis Wittwer | Assessment, Books, Current Affairs, Education, Education Policy, Elementary, Life in the Classroom, Literacy, Mathematics, Mentoring, National Board Certification, Parent Involvment, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership, Web/Tech, Weblogs | February 7, 2009

Stories from School now on Twitter!

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Do you want to receive your Stories from School posts through Twitter? Now you can . . . . 

CSTP--Staff | Education, Life in the Classroom, National Board Certification, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership | December 31, 2008

The Return to Teaching


I am again looking forward to the classroom. I feel like it was long ago when I was there. I miss the interactions between students, watching young people make meaning of the world around them. I miss the opportunities to improve compassion and skill and purpose. I miss working with teachers who, by default, are amazing people with amazing talents to impact the learning of children.

Travis Wittwer | Education Policy, Mentoring, National Board Certification, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership | December 11, 2008

WASHINGTONIOUSLY Awesome: NBCTs fill the classrooms!

Picture 2 I remember when I signed up for NBPTS. I was filled with the excitement of the challenge, the excellence. I remember when I received my NBPTS box. I was filled with sheesh, what have I gotten myself into. Now that I have gone through the certification process, I am a stronger teacher which, ultimately, benefits my students.
Kim | Education Policy, National Board Certification | December 1, 2008



This is a wonderful time of year to focus on the positive rather than the negative.  Family, friends, good health, a warm home, and plentiful food are at the top of my list. For all of that, I’m thankful.


I’m also thankful to the legislators of Washington State who have seen fit to reward me for being an accomplished teacher.  Two of my sisters are teachers for our neighbor to the south. They have at various times asked me about National Board Certification and the support and rewards that come with the process. Sadly, in Oregon the only compensation for the arduous and expensive process is the personal, intrinsic satisfaction one receives from completing a difficult task. No wonder there were only 222 NBCTs in that state at the end of 2007, as opposed to 1801 in Washington. (See This certainly doesn’t mean that there aren’t thousands of accomplished teachers in Oregon.


My bonus this year contained an additional five thousand dollars, thanks to the insight and understanding of Washington legislators regarding how difficult it can be to work in a high needs school. For that, I am also thankful.


For so many years, teachers have felt underappreciated and undervalued. Washington State is striving to change that. I’m thankful to be living in a state where I feel valued for the time, energy, love, and passion I put in to my job.

Tom | National Board Certification | November 28, 2008

Welcome and Congratulations New NBCTs!


By Tom

"As the circle of light increases, so does the circumference of darkness around it." -Albert Einstein

Ten years ago I thought I was a much better teacher than I think I am now. I had things in my classroom well under control. I'd taught the same grade at the same school for over fifteen years. I knew the curriculum really well. My kids behaved themselves. Parents liked me. My job was becoming increasingly effortless. I had conquered teaching as I knew it.

It wasn't always easy. When I first started out, teaching was very difficult for me, particularly the organizational part of it. I forgot important stuff. During my second year on the job I forgot to hand out the order forms for school pictures. Fortunately one of my colleagues spotted them on my desk and expressed concern that my entire class wouldn't be able to order their pictures. "You know, for a lot of moms, those are more important than report cards!" Of course by then, the kids had gone home, and the pictures were the next day. So I was on the phone all evening, describing the various packages to all 24 mothers. "...Package B includes two 5 by 7s, one 8 by ten and sixteen wallets. The price is $12.95. Now Package C, on the other hand..."

It was a long night, and a valuable learning experience.

Travis Wittwer | Education Policy, National Board Certification, Professional Development | September 3, 2008

NBPTS Survival Knife



What do about 1850 teachers have in common? What do 3.5% of Washington teachers have in common?

Travis Wittwer | National Board Certification, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership | August 5, 2008

Washington, a TON of education



Washington state is awesome, awe inspiring. I have just left a facilitator training for NBCTs interested in facilitating candidates who are pursuing National Board certification. I left the training pumped, excited, invigorated! Washington is changing how education is viewed and this change is strengthening the learning of our students.

Kim | Education Policy, National Board Certification, Social Issues | July 30, 2008

...and More on Merit Pay


Two years ago, the state agreed to double the  bonus for NBCTs teaching in high risk schools. Is this fair? I must admit, I did a happy dance when I heard the news. I am National Board Certified, and I work in a high-needs high school.

When I started teaching, I worked in a school that had about 35% free and reduced lunch. Over nine years at the same school, I watched that number climb to more than 60%. Ruby Payne’s theories on poverty might be controversial, but I witnessed the change in school climate when we hit the tipping point where the “culture of poverty” became prevalent. Up until that point, middle class values of achievement, regular attendance, and valuing education reigned. There were enough middle-class kids to carry those expectations for the entire school, and the high-risk kids tried to live up to those expectations. As our middle-class population declined, so did achievement, assignment completion, regular attendance, and parental involvement. It became incumbent upon teachers to be the single most important motivating factor in student achievement, which led to another visible impact: an increase in teacher absenteeism and turnover. The extra time and stress of working with high-risk students took physical and emotional tolls on the staff. It is way too easy to get ours hearts broken when the reason we become teachers is to help kids and make it a little bit easier for them to successfully navigate their way through life.

High risk students come to school unready to learn for a variety of reasons. One student, “Jane,” came into my classroom early on the days she made it to school. She would eat a granola bar from my stash and curl up on the sofa in my room to sleep. I would try to coax her to get her make-up work done, but she was too tired. Jane and her mom had been kicked out of their apartment and were living in a car. The time she spent in my room in the mornings was the only safe sleep she got. In a high needs school, this is not an unusual situation. Maybe I was able to make school a slightly better place for her, but I sure wasn’t able to teach her much when she could barely stay awake during class.

Another year, we had a young first-year teacher quit halfway through the year when he found out that one of his 9th-grade students, Yolanda, was prostituting herself to help support her father’s drug habit instead of doing her homework. It was emotionally devastating to him, and he didn’t know how to face Yolanda after he found out.

An economically impoverished majority, including students like Jane and Yolanda, can lead to lower test scores school-wide. With the government so willing to blame low test scores on teachers, another type of pressure is applied in “failing” schools: funding cuts, interference from the state, and the simple disappointment of having to face "failure". Why would an accomplished teacher choose to work in a school where they have to work twice as hard to help students achieve?

In trying to help my students be successful over the years, I have “helped” them pay for school supplies, food, sports fees, yearbooks, textbook fines, clothes, and field trips. I know that I will not be the only teacher whom the additional bonus simply reimburses for money we have already spend at school. My only concern with this bonus is that it doesn’t go to EVERY highly accomplished teacher, National Board Certified or not, who has accepted the avocation of working with underprivileged kids. A mediocre teacher can be successful in a school where the kids come ready to learn (not that there aren’t amazingly competent teachers in those schools and not that we don’t have any students who are ready to learn). It just makes sense as a matter of public policy that students with the greatest needs should have the most accomplished teachers, and National Boards is one way to measure that competency that the state can reward.

Tom | Education, Education Policy, National Board Certification | July 20, 2008

Merit Pay, Anyone?


By Tom

This month we’ve heard both presidential candidates address education. Nothing too surprising was said: Obama’s in favor of parents getting more involved in their children’s schools but against vouchers. McCain’s in favor of vouchers but against teacher unions. However, there was one issue that both candidates seemed to agree on, at least in principle: merit pay.

The idea of merit pay has been batted around ever since I can remember. It sounds like a great idea. A win-win. Good teachers get more money while the students get a better education. Competition leads to better products and lower prices in the retail industry, right? Athletes thrive when they compete, don’t they? It sounds like a simple solution to a very complicated problem.

Which is exactly why it won’t work, at least the way most people envision it.