In 2012, 575 public school teachers in Washington qualified to receive National Board Certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, placing the state second only to North Carolina.
To date, more than 6,800 Washington teachers have achieved certification. More than 13 percent of Washington teachers are board certified, compared with 3 percent nationally.
Mary Lindquist, the president of the Washington Education Association, hopes state legislators will continue to invest in incentive pay for National Board Certified teachers. Currently, the state provides those who qualify an annual stipend of $5,090 and another $5,000 if a certified teacher instructs in a challenging school.
“When legislators convene in Olympia, I hope they recognize their support for high-quality teaching is paying off,” Lindquist said.
State Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, said education leaders agree that National Board Certification is a “tremendous accomplishment and achievement for teachers.”
“We believe it results in better achievement in our students,” said Dammeier, who serves as the vice chairman on the House early learning and K-12 committee. “There is a lot of bipartisan support for National Board Certification.”
That said, investment does come at a cost during each state budget cycle. Dammeier said it’s close to a $100 million investment for each budget.
“We’re getting a lot more teachers going for it, and that creates a greater fiscal obligation every year,” Dammeier said. “It undergoes scrutiny each year. But, in general, it is widely supported.”
The Puyallup and Sumner school districts are among the leaders in the state for National Board Certification.
At Ferrucci Junior High in Puyallup, there are about seven National Board Certified teachers. One who received his certification in November is Steve Aguilar, a seventh- and eighth-grade history teacher.
Aguilar missed the certification in his first attempt by just three points. He was successful this time around.
He said the certification process forces teacher to dig deep and analyze their practices.
“It looks at why you teach what you teach, and how you teach,” Aguilar said.
Teachers must turn in four portfolios. The first is an analysis of how a teacher instructs; the second is a video that shows the teacher in action during class; the third is a video that displays a teacher’s interactions in small groups; and the fourth is an opportunity to explain and show how they are a leader in their community inside the classroom and out.
“My motivation was to present a new challenge for my teaching,” Aguilar said. “I didn’t want to be stagnant in what I was doing. I wanted to ask, ‘Am I really being effective?’ and ‘Am I making connections?’ It worked out pretty well.”
Meanwhile, Kathleen Tuttle, a math teacher at Bonney Lake High School, said she aspired to try for certification because of the challenge it offered and the opportunity it presented to make her a more effective teacher.
“My No. 1 thing is I am a lifetime learner,” Tuttle said. “I’m always thinking I can do something to increase my knowledge. There is always something extra I can bring to my classroom to benefit my students. I always have to be looking at what is new and what I can do differently in the classroom.”
Aguilar and Tuttle said they’re glad they took the leap.
“My lesson planning now has become more deliberate,” Tuttle said.
“It will make me a better teacher with that analyzing piece,” Aguilar said.
National Board Certification is good for 10 years, at which time, teachers have to go through the process again.Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.