Record Number of Chicago Teachers Pursuing National Board Certification

November 14, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
A record number of Chicago teachers this year are pursuing National Board Certification (NBC), the nation¡¦s highest teaching credential, according to enrollment figures that top a combined 660 in the city¡¦s three preparation programs.

"Chicago is one of the fastest-growing urban school districts for National Board Certification,¡¨ explained Arne Duncan, CEO of Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Last year, Chicago had 173 teachers achieve NBC, the largest single-year class of achievers ever for the district. ¡§The more master teachers we have in this system, the more we can tap into that talent to help raise the level of performance in all our schools."

To date, 652 teachers have achieved NBC, more than 400 are awaiting their scores, and another 660-plus are newly enrolled for this fall.

Mayor Daley, CPS, and The Chicago Public Education Fund (¡§The Fund¡¨) set a goal in 2004 to have 1,200 Chicago teachers achieve NBC by December 2008. Interest in NBC rose this year in part thanks to the recently completed five-year contract between the Chicago Teachers Union and CPS, which includes a provision to reward NBC Teachers with a $1,750 annual salary boost for meeting the rigorous standard.

"We believe that compensating teachers for their performance to national standards represents a new era of professionalism for Chicago teachers," said Bruce Rauner, vice chairman of The Fund, which has allocated $6 million since 2000 to spearhead National Board Certification in Chicago. This year and in previous years, teachers who achieve certification will be awarded a one-time financial incentive of $3,000 from The Fund. Additionally, CPS awards NBCTs with a one-time bonus, and the state of Illinois provides a $3,000 annual stipend.

Data show that NBC teachers in Chicago are concentrated in high-need schools, are staying in the system, and are demonstrating effective teaching.
From 2001 to 2005, schools with at least three NBCTs showed larger gains on standardized tests than schools with no NBCTs. This was true at both the elementary school level on the math and reading Iowa Test of Basic Skills and at the high school level on the Prairie State Achievement Exam and ACT.

More than 65 percent of the 269 district schools (including charter schools) with at least one NBCT serve populations of students that are 85 percent or more low-income.
Nearly 90 percent of Chicago teachers who have achieved National Board Certification remain in CPS, mostly in classroom teaching positions. Some have advanced to school leadership, administrative and district-level positions.

"Our theory of change has always been that teams of talented teachers combined with highly-selective and well-prepared principals can transform instructional practice and the learning environments in our schools,¡¨ explained Janet Knupp, founding president of The Fund. ¡§Human capital is the biggest lever we can use to positively impact students, and National Board Certified Teachers are demonstrating that in classrooms every day."

CPS, the Chicago Teachers Union, and National-Louis University run support programs for teachers pursuing the certification. For more information on National Board Certification in Chicago, visit www.chicagonbcteacher.org