News & Reports

Board Certification for Teachers is a Smart Investment for Communities

Guest Blogger: Michelle Accardi, NBCT & Director of Policy & Partnerships, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

Communities thrive when children are offered a high quality education. Socially responsible businesses, committed to the communities in which they operate, have a deep stake in high quality teaching. The long-term view is that they depend on great teachers to deliver a pipeline of employees in future generations. In addition, the availability of high quality education is an ongoing consideration in attracting and retaining both employees and additional business development. There is a direct connection between programs such as National Board certification and a thriving business community and local economy.

Since the most significant school-based factor impacting student learning is a high-quality teacher, it’s critical that we come together to assure an accomplished teacher for every student. More than a decade of research proves that students of National Board Certified Teachers  learn more and that investing in Board certification has a remarkable return for students and the entire community.   

Similar to Board certification in professions like medicine and engineering, Board certification for teachers symbolizes accomplished practice and is a hallmark of excellence both within the profession and to the larger community.  The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards  offers certification in 25 certificate areas spanning 18 subject areas from pre-school through 12thgrade. 

Teachers who complete this rigorous, voluntary certification have demonstrated that they have mastered the knowledge and demonstrated the skills to provide an excellent education to each child in their class.  The certification process consists of 4 components: 

  • Content Knowledge 
  • Differentiation in Instruction
  • Teaching Practice and Learning Environment
  • Effective and Reflective Practitioner

Teachers take a performance-based assessment of their teaching practices, submit video of their teaching, provide analysis of student work, and show the ability to develop and manage student data and assessments.

Nationally 4 percent of all teachers have achieved this credential which is simply not enough to ensure that every child can have access to the advantages of a Board-certified teacher.  In Alabama, 2,704 educators have achieved Board certification – about 5.7% of the state’s teacher workforce. Despite this promising and ever-increasing number, there are simply not enough Board Certified teachers for Alabama students to gain the advantages they will need to succeed in today’s workplace. 

A recent Gallup poll determined that 81% of Americans believe that teachers should achieve Board certification. This public support is reflected in the state of Alabama’s investment of a $5,000 stipend for all teachers who achieve and maintain this credential and an additional stipend for Board-certified teachers serving in critical needs subject areas at high-need schools.  

These incentives encourage the most accomplished teachers to continue to work in Alabama schools. Research shows that for every dollar invested in Board certification, states can expect a $31.80 return. Moreover, NBCTs have been found to be 4 times more likely to remain in the classroom than the state average.  Given the growing teacher shortage it makes sense for communities to invest in strategies proven to retain the best educators. 

Students of Board-certified teachers learn more.  Numerous studies have identified the typical learning gain for students is between 1 and 2 months for each year with a Board-certified teacher in their classroom. For example, a recent study in Mississippi found that all other factors being equal, a Kindergarten student taught by an NBCT is 31% more likely to achieve a proficient score on readiness assessments than other students.  Every parent (and future employer) should want to put these odds in favor of their students.  

The Creative Cities Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Huntsville Committee of 100, has stepped up to make it possible for more teachers to pursue Board certification in the Huntsville, Madison City, and Madison County school systems by raising funds to pay the certification fees for teachers.  Board certification costs almost $2,000 which is beyond the budgets of many Alabama teachers. As business and community leaders work to provide the financial support, the teachers and school leaders will be investing their time and talent towards both individual achievement and cohorts of support throughout the system.  

Teachers typically report spending about 400 hours outside of the school day working on Board certification and many continue to invest their time after certifying by mentoring other teachers.  Communities realize an additional benefit from NBCTs mentoring new teachers, as a recent study by the American Institute of Research found that students of new teachers who are mentored by NBCTs show a remarkable 6.5 months of additional learning compared with students of new teachers not mentored by NBCTs.  Yet another way work of the Committee of 100 to grow the number of NBCTs in local schools will have such a remarkable impact on students and teachers for years to come. 

For more information on National Board Certification please visit

The Huntsville Committee of 100 is a business organization of 255 CEOs and professionals – including 50 young professionals — committed to long-term strategies that support economic development, high-quality public education, and cooperative local government. 

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