A few years ago I decided to pursue National Board Certification. Then I looked at the process. No way! I would never have the time to do that! My children were very young, I had a full time job, numerous other responsibilities.
I sat on the idea for a year, but then found I was still interested. However, doing it all in one year was just too much. So what did I do? I decided to spread the work over two years by doing Take One the first year, and the rest of the process the next. Yes, that did break it up a little bit, but I always wished I could have broken it up even more–it was quite an uneven split between one entry one year and three entries plus the assessment center the second year!
My story is not unique–the time burden and financial demands the National Board process places on individuals in a single year can be an obstacle to pursuing National Board Certification. These obstacles bear no relationship to whether or not a teacher's practice actually meets the National Board standards.
Now that process is changing! National Board Candidates will now have the option to complete the process over some years, and pay as they go. The certification fee, payable over time, will be approximately $1900, as compared to the current $2565. These changes will make the process more accessible to more teachers–time, financial issues, family and other commitments, will no longer be quite the road block they once were to pursuing this rigorous process. This increase in accessibility is welcome!
Currently, the National Board process consists of four entries and six assessment center exercises, and candidates complete all of this in one year. NBPTS is looking to reformulate those 10 parts into a smaller number of components. Implementation of the new process will be spread over multiple years as components are developed and released. Two of the components will likely be available in 2014-2015, and the other components after that.
Once all of the components are available, candidates will have a choice: Want to do the whole thing in one year? Great! Do circumstances necessitate that you spread it out over several years? That's fine too!
What's not changing? The rigor and the National Board standards. This thing is still going to be tough, and it's still going to focus on improving student learning.
There are some long and short term implications. In the short term, rolling it out over a few years means that the only candidates certifying in that transitional time span will be retake candidates from previous cycles. What does this mean for candidates who had been planning for a stipend, such as candidates who may have been counting on it for the last ten years before retirement? What does this mean for candidates who had been counting on National Board Certification to fulfill state teaching certificate requirements ?
What do these changes mean for this year? Will there be an influx of candidates this fall once teachers realize that if they do not get into the pipeline now, it will be a few years before they are able to receive certification? Or, on the other hand, will candidates want to wait and not start until next year so they can be part of the new process? How do Take One candidates fit in?
What about the next few years? What will candidate support systems look like? How will cohorts be structured? What are the implications for legislative support? How about those National Board rituals, both big and small? This past year, we lost "the box" and the associated "packing parties" with the move to online submission. That turned out, for the most part, to be a welcome change. As this new National Board Certification process moves foward, what are the shared events and key moments that will bring NBCTs together?