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The Daily Tar Heel

Incentives for Certification Encourage Teachers to Apply

National Board Certifications are granted by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which announced last week that the state gave out a total of 1,260 new certifications this year, bringing the total to 3,665.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has the second highest number of certifications in the nation with 351, trailing only Los Angeles.

One reason experts say North Carolina has a large number of nationally certified teachers is the incentives it gives to apply for certification. The state pays the $2,300 application fee and provides an automatic 12 percent salary increase upon certification.

But educators applying for certification do not apply only for financial gains, said Angela Farthing, manager of the N.C. Association of Educators' Center for Teaching and Learning.

"Teachers that become certified become experts," Farthing said. "They're offered other opportunities to grow professionally without leaving the classroom."

Farthing said the certification process is extensive and that it must be completed in a certain time frame.

"It's a nine-month process," she said. This multistep process includes the preparation of a portfolio and an assessment phase.

Farthing said there are valuable aspects of getting national certification, including flexibility. "It's a portable certificate," she said. "You can teach anywhere in the United States."

Farthing said the fact that the certification lasts 10 years also appeals to teachers.

If a teacher has both national certification and a master's degree, he or she receives a salary that is 22 percent above base salary, an increase that could bring a salary to as high as $60,000 per year, Farthing said.

The increase comes from the automatic 12 percent increase given for national certification and an additional 10 percent paid for achieving a master's degree.

But financial benefits are not the prime motivation for getting National Board Certification, said Velma Corsi, a licensing technician in the human resources department of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

"It's an added bonus, but we have a lot of dedicated teachers who are proud of what they do," Corsi said.

Vanessa Jeter, public information officer for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, also stressed the educational benefits of teacher certification.

"Board (certified) teachers have at their disposal a wider range of teaching methods," Jeter said.

Jeter said North Carolina's high number of nationally certified teachers should be considered a good sign.

She said, "We have no direct study that links national rankings to North Carolina rankings, but the fact that we have so many is a good indicator."

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