Letters to the Editor: NBPTS Certification Redundant To Value-Added & Teacher Agrees: National Teacher Certification Is A Hoax

Published June 1, 2004

NBPTS Certification Redundant to Value-Added

Re “New Study First to Affirm Value of National Teacher Certification,” by Robert Holland, School Reform News, May 2004.

There were many more non-NBPTS certified teachers who performed as well as, or better than, the NBPTS certified teachers, but who received no salary increments for their performance. This is apparently the first time that both the National Education Association and the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards have, albeit implicitly, endorsed incremental value added, measured by incremental student performance, as a measure of teaching effectiveness.

If one accepts incremental student performance as the measure of teaching effectiveness, why bother with the imperfect surrogate, NBPTS certification, when the real thing is available at far less cost?

John T. Wenders
Professor of Economics, University of Idaho
Senior Fellow, The Commonwealth Foundation
[email protected]

Teacher Agrees: National Teacher Certification IS a hoax

Re “National Teacher Certification Labeled a ‘Hoax’,” by George A. Clowes, School Reform News, April 2004.

Thank you so much for reporting on the hoax of National Teacher Certification (NTC). The public needs to know about this hoax and teachers need to know about the inconsistencies in the award process. I went through this experience several years ago when it very first became available to North Carolina teachers. This IS truly a hoax!

I have my Masters in Education and am a certified reading teacher. My students consistently scored the highest scores and made the greatest gains on end-of-grade testing in reading, yet I did not pass the reading section of the test. My highest NTC score was a section on 8th grade health, which I have never even taught.

In working with other teachers who were also trying to become certified, I saw teachers lie about their classroom activities and falsify reports. Some of these teachers kept children after school to do mock lessons and then rewarded them with ice-cream parties. There would be no way for assessors to check this.

I worked with a teacher of gifted children who knew nothing about teaching reading or how to help a struggling emergent reader. This teacher passed the reading section and became certified. I helped edit and gave suggestions to the submissions of two other teachers who also got the certification. These teachers did not have near the experience I had, nor have any type of higher degree.

The NTC computerized assessment I took seemed entirely subjective. Who really knows who the assessors were and what the true “standards” were? I footnoted my answers with current research, especially by Nancy Atwell, yet this seemed not to matter. Also, I witnessed lots of mail sent out by NTC trying to get teachers to help do the assessments, so I seriously question the qualifications of the assessors. Are they simply people looking for extra cash?

During the process, the phone “assistance” from NTC was pathetic. I would call in for answers to my questions and get inconsistent responses. I was told that my Masters degree would count toward evidence of Professional Development but even though I listed it, plus all the other committees I have worked on, I did not pass that section either.

I learned nothing through this certification experience except that it was an unfair and subjective process. Teachers who received the NTC recognition in my community were not always thought of as good teachers by the rest of the community. The entire assessment was a complete waste of a year in my life.

I feel very strongly about all the promotion for this false honor, plus the wasted tax dollars for very little achievement. Surely we can find a better way to spend this vast amount of money and meet our students’ educational needs.

5th-Grade Science Teacher
North Carolina
(Name withheld at writer’s request)

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School Reform News
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Chicago, IL 60603
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Letters may be edited for length.