Monday, March 28, 2011

Impact of National Board Certified Teachers . . .

The title of this article, “What Does Washington State Get for Its Investment in Bonuses for Board Certified Teachers”, from the center on reinventing public education recently caught my eye and has been sitting in my blog folder. It shares results of a study to determine if the goals of the program have been met. The study comes on the heels of the state’s budget crisis that may result in suspending the bonuses for this certification.

  • To reward strong teachers across the state
  • To encourage them to teach in high poverty schools.
A review of the research reveals mixed results with one consistent finding; the effect of NBCTs on low performing students is more consistently positive. It also reveals, however, that board certified teachers on average get the same student outcomes after receiving certification as before suggesting that the process itself does not improve their effectiveness.

Another finding of the study relates to the second goal of increasing the number of NBCTs in high poverty schools. In the four years since the bonus for teaching in a high poverty school was implemented, less than 1% have switched each year to a challenging school. In the same period there was actually a net loss of NBCTs in these schools as 23 switched to challenging schools while 27 moved from challenging to non-challenging. The following two implications were identified by the authors based on the data from the research.
  • The legislation has been ineffective at encouraging NBCTs to migrate to challenging schools, and NBCT bonuses have not improved teacher retention at challenging schools compared to all continuing teachers statewide.

  • Local public and private money spent to boost candidates’ pass rates in turn affects the flow of state funding, to the advantage of districts that can subsidize teachers in their certification process. If the goal is to reward outstanding teaching statewide, then the influence of local spending on state bonus payments might be cause for concern.
You can find additional information on the study here. Our population of NBCTs has grown over this period of time and I am not aware of how many, if any, have left our district for another. Though there was a study prior to the 2007 legislation that gave lawmakers the belief that offering the additional $5000 bonus to switch to challenging schools was an incentive, it has not happened. I am wondering if any of our teachers have given much thought to this switch and what it would take to make it, though it is not something that I want to happen. Given the current budget proposals and possible loss of all bonuses it may be an academic question, but still an important consideration as the legislature and governor make decisions on the future of the program.

The potential loss of the bonus due to the budget crisis in our state is unfortunate and certainly not something that these teachers anticipated as they made the commitment to work towards this certification.  I hope that the legislators and governor consider this as they make the difficult decisions necessary to balance the state's budget.

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