National Board Bonus and SB 5607

National Board Certification serves multiple purposes for teachers in Washington.  Like teachers in every state, the National Board Certification process provides a structure that teachers can use to analyze and reflect about their practice.  Unlike every state, in Washington, teachers can enroll and certify through the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards as a way to earn second tier certification, a requirement for thousands of teachers in our state.

The Washington State Senate just passed Senate Bill 5607 and this bill is now in the House. 5607 seeks to meet our state’s need to fully fund basic education.  Buried on page 51 and 52 of the bill is a provision that eliminates the state paid bonus and instead offers ,“ A school district board of directors may provide a bonus to a certificated instructional staff person who has attained certification from the national board for professional teaching standards.”   For the 6000 NBCTs in our state and the hundreds that are currently in process, this single sentence creates serious anxiety.  According to data provided by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, twenty four states do not offer any state level compensation for National Board Certification.  Of those twenty four states, fourteen have 1% or fewer NBCTs in their state.   For those states dedicating an annual bonus of $4000 or more, the percentage of NBCTs in the state rises dramatically.  In Washington, 15% of our teachers are NBCTs.  Two other states rival our percentage.  South Carolina offers a similar state wide bonus ($5000 per year) and 18% of their teachers are NBCTs.  North Carolina, 21% of their teachers are NBCTs, pairs National Board Certification with their state salary schedule. NBCTs receive 12% above base pay.   Simply put, states with higher stipends have a larger percentage of NBCTs.  

The removal of the state paid bonus will place pressure on local school districts to pay these stipends.  Yet, with lack of clarity around how schools will be funded, it becomes even more unclear how districts will be able to fund stipends.  Districts that allocate funds to replace the state stipend will inevitably find themselves with a larger proportion of NBCTs than districts that are unable.  This feature will create more inequality between districts, not less.  In areas with several school districts to choose from, NBCTs will likely consider whether they can afford to  remain in a district that cannot support a stipend.  Locally bargained stipends will create competition between districts for these accomplished teachers.  Simply put, the goal of lawmakers in our state should not be to create this level of competition between districts.

When I began my National Board journey in 2004, there was a small bonus associated with certification.  I was in my first five years of teaching and that bonus absolutely incentivized the large amount of work that the process presented.  When the bonus increased, more teachers sought certification.  These teachers have demonstrated that they:

  • Are committed to students and their learning
  • Know the subjects they teach and how to teach them to students
  • Are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning
  • Think systemically about their practice and learn from experience
  • Are members of learning communities*

These teachers ordered their financial lives around the promise that our lawmakers would honor their accomplishments.  If the goal is to retain quality teachers in the classroom, then perhaps the legislature should reconsider this provision in SB 5607.  



*The Five Core Propositions found at

5 thoughts on “National Board Bonus and SB 5607

  1. Mark Gardner

    I find it more than a little obnoxious that they want to shift this to a local obligation…while also limiting local levy authority and hamstringing bargaining. They’re basically saying “you can pay for it” but also “you’re not allowed to have or raise the money to pay for it.”

  2. Shari Conditt Post author

    Agreed, Mark. We don’t even know if the proposed levy structure can cover the current costs associated with providing a basic education, much less additional stipends. It’s a slap in the face to accomplished teachers and will certainly hinder teacher retention.

  3. Lyon Terry

    It will not pass muster at the local level. There are too many competing obligations on school budgets.

  4. Jan Kragen

    And isn’t this an example of bait and switch? Here, Washington teachers, go do the work of becoming Board Certified. We will honor and support you with an ongoing stipend for as long as you maintain your certification.

    Oh, oops, now that you’ve done the work, we’ve decided that WE don’t need to give you the money. We can let your districts choose whether or not to give it to you.

  5. Joanna Barnes

    The inequity you mention is the kicker for me. We already know that working in under-resourced schools is more challenging. There are less community resources and the needs the kids bring to the classroom are greater. Accomplished teachers are needed in these schools more than anywhere. That’s the logic behind the additional stipend offered to NBCTs who work in “challenging schools”. Without the support from the state level, these poor distrcits are not going to be able to attract and retain the highly qualified teachers their students desperately need. This is a step towards widenening the opportunity gap, not closing it.

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