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The Daily Tar Heel

North Carolina leads country in board certified teachers

Ten teachers in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools system received National Board Certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. North Carolina has 20,677 National Board Certified teachers — the highest number of teachers in a state with board certification in the country.

Board certification is not a requirement to teach in North Carolina. It is a volunteer-based certification that recognizes teachers that have reached certain standards of knowledge and practices established by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

CHCCS now has 273 board certified teachers. Haley Wamble, a science teacher at East Chapel Hill High School, was one of the ten that received certification this year. 

“It’s a mark of a good educator,” Wamble said. “The board certification process makes teachers reflect on the teaching practices. Because of the reflective process, it makes teachers better.”

Wamble said she has nine years of teaching experience and a masters degree, but a board certification is more of a nationally recognized certification.

“It’s a comprehensive-type of licensure,” she said.

Teachers are also required to submit a portfolio of student work and submit a video of their teaching practices. The application process can take between 200 to 400 hours to complete.

Bear Bashford, a sixth and seventh grade science teacher at McDougle Middle School, also received board certification this year.

Bashford agreed the application process also helped him reflect about his teaching practices and to have it organized in one place. He added that being board certified doesn’t assist teachers address non-academic challenges students encounter, like bullying, racism, sexism and emotional problems, though.

“I think to be a better teacher, you have to address those (too),” Bashford said.

Beth O’Donnell, an English as a new language teacher at Chapel Hill High School with 11 years of teaching experience, said she applied for the certification because she wanted to learn from other ESL teachers, since there is no national ESL program. She was able to speak with more experienced teachers about strategies to help kids in the mainstream classroom.

“The teachers that have gone through it, there’s an extra step of rationale about why we do something,” O’Donnell said. “Knowing the why will benefit students because you end up changing your approach to meet their specific needs.”

Some critics say the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ program focuses more on the quality of teaching than improving student achievement.

North Carolina has historically led the country in the highest number of board certified teachers, which may be due to the 12 percent salary increase for board certified teachers in North Carolina. Teachers that have both board certification and a master’s degree receive a 22 percent salary increase.

In the past, the state paid for teachers’ application fee, which in past years could cost more than $2,000. Since 2010, however, it offers a low-interest loan to teachers to pay for the $1,900 fee.

“If states are going to pay for it, it speaks for the education that they want,” Wamble said.

On the North Carolina 2014-2015 teacher salary schedule, teachers don’t receive a pay raise until they have taught for at least five years. Board certification allows teachers to apply after their third year of teaching.

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