Examining Teachers' Instructional Practices as They Progress Through the National Board Certification Process

Examining Teachers' Instructional Practices as They Progress Through the National Board Certification Process

Christine G. Mokher (Florida State University, USA), Linda Cavalluzzo (CNA, USA) and Stephen Henderson (Briarwood Enterprises LLC, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3068-8.ch025

Abstract

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards provides national certification to teachers who apply for and meet the Board's standards of performance for “accomplished” educators. The authors conducted a longitudinal analysis of classroom observations of high school teachers in science and mathematics in Kentucky and Chicago, comparing a sample of National Board Certification (NBC) applicants and similar teachers not pursuing this certification. Observations were conducted at baseline and in two subsequent semesters. The Leadership by Design classroom observation instrument was used to assess instruction, and teachers were rated on nine different dimensions of instruction and overall instructional quality. The findings indicate that the ratings of the instructional practices of NBC applicants exceeded those of non-applicants at baseline on six of the nine teaching quality subscales, as well as the overall rating of instructional quality. However, there was little evidence of growth in instructional quality over time for either applicants or non-applicants.
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Introduction

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is a professional organization that provides national certification to teachers who apply for and meet the Board’s standards of performance for “accomplished” educators. The certification process is voluntary, and it is a time-consuming and rigorous one, requiring applicants to furnish a portfolio containing videos of their instruction, copies of their students’ work, and written reflections on their instruction, as well as to complete online exercises that assess their pedagogical and subject matter knowledge.

The National Board certification (NBC) process is a research-based program that was developed over 10 years with financing from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and private funders. Only experienced, certified educators are eligible to apply. The certification process can take a few months to two years. Teachers who are unsuccessful may refine and resubmit portions of their application and/or retake the exercises to raise their score and achieve certification on a second or third attempt.

Although the original motivation for establishing NBPTS was to reliably identify highly qualified teachers, and not to build a strong professional development program, the certification process clearly has the markings of such a program. As a result, it is reasonable to expect that participation in the NBC process could improve a teacher’s instruction. This study analyzes classroom observations of the instructional practices of high school teachers in science and mathematics in Kentucky and Chicago Public Schools (CPS), comparing a sample of NBC applicants with similar teachers not pursuing this certification. Observations were conducted at baseline—that is, in the semester when the NBC applicants first submitted their applications for certification— and then again in each of the next two semesters. Most of the comparison teachers came from the same schools as the NBC applicants and were observed on the same days.

The Leadership by Design (LBD) classroom observation instrument was used to assess instruction. Teachers were rated on nine different dimensions of instruction: lesson overview, instructional overview, questioning, classroom atmosphere, concept development, teacher’s content knowledge, learning climate, classroom management, and assessments. Teachers also were given an overall instructional quality rating by the site observers.

The objective of this chapter is to gain an understanding of the effects of National Board certification on instructional practices. The following research question addresses this objective: Does the National Board certification process influence teachers’ classroom practices? This question is addressed by examining instructional practices over time for NBC applicants compared with those of non-applicants. The analysis is part of a larger study that also includes a statistical analysis to measure the effect of National Board certification on student test scores in Kentucky and CPS (Cavalluzzo, Barrow, Henderson, Mokher, Geraghty, & Sartain, 2014).

This chapter begins by describing the NBC process and by reviewing the relevant literature. Second, the methods are described, including the classroom observation instrument and rubric for scoring observations, procedures for recruiting teachers, and classroom observation process. Third, findings are presented which examine baseline ratings of instructional quality for NBC applicants and non-applicants, as well as changes over time for both groups of teachers. The chapter concludes by summarizing the key findings, the limitations of this study, and the implications for future research.

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