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Educational policy analysis archives
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Educational policy analysis archives.
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c April 03, 2007
Making use of what teachers know and can do : policy, practice, and national board certification / Julia E. Koppich, Daniel C. Humphrey, [and] Heather J. Hough.
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Readers are free to copy display, and distribute this article, as long as the work is attributed to the author(s) and Education Policy Analysis Archives, it is distributed for noncommercial purposes only, and no alte ration or transformation is made in the work. More details of this Creative Commons license are available at http:/ / ses/by-nc-nd/2.5/. All other uses must be approved by the author(s) or EPAA EPAA is published jointly by the Colleges of Education at Arizona State University and the Universi ty of South Florida. Articles are indexed by H.W. Wilson & Co. Please contribute commentary at http :// and send errata notes to Sherman Dorn ( EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES A peer-reviewed scholarly journal Editor: Sherman Dorn College of Education University of South Florida Volume 15 Number 7 Apri l 3, 2006 ISSN 1068–2341 Making Use of What Teac hers Know and Can Do: Policy, Practice, and Natio nal Board Certification1 Julia E. Koppich J. Koppich & Associates Daniel C. Humphrey Heather J. Hough SRI International Citation: Koppich, J. E., Humphr ey, D. C., & Hough, H. J. (2007). Making use of what teachers know and can do: Policy, practice, and nati onal board certification. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 15 (7). Retrieved [date] from ht tp:// Abstract This paper is the culmination of a three-year study that sought to frame an initial answer to the question, “What are the ci rcumstances and cond itions under which National Board Certified teachers (NBC Ts) can have a positive impact on lowperforming schools?” The study, funded by Atlantic Philanthropies, was part of the National Board’s more comprehensive effo rt to answer a number of research questions about the impacts of board certification and board certified teachers in schools and districts across the country. Keywords: Board certification; teacher certifi cation; advanced cert ification; teacher quality 1 Research for this article was conducted by the aut hors and H. Alix Gallagher, Kristin R. Bosetti, and Katherine Baisden of SRI International, Ida Walqui, Ann Mari e Wiese, and Rose Vlichez of WestEd, and Barnett Berry, Dylan Johnson, and Diana Montgomery of the Center for Teaching Quality.


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 7 2 Aprovechando lo que los Docentes Saben y Pueden Hacer: Polticas, Prcticas y acreditacin por el National Board Resumen Este trabajo es el fruto de tres aos de estudio que intento en marcar una respuesta inicial a la pregunta: Cule s son las circunstancias y condiciones bajo las cuales docentes acreditados por el National Board tienen impactos positivos en escuelas de bajo desempeo? Este es tudio financiado por Atlantic Philanthropies, es parte de un esfuerzo ms general del National Board para contestar interrogantes acerca del impacto que las ac ciones del National Board y de los docentes con credenciales del National Board tienen en distri tos escolares de lo s Estados Unidos Palabras clave: certificados del National Board; docentes co n certificados del National Board, certificaci n avanzada, calidad docente. Introduction The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) was launched in 1987 as an independent, nonprofit organization with a mission to develop standards and assessments for advanced teacher certification. The architecture fo r the NBPTS was nearly a decade in the making; the Board certified its first teacher in 1993. By December 2005, more than 47,500 teachers had become board certified (National Board for Profe ssional Teaching Standards, 2005). Many states and districts have openly acknowledged, with monetary incentives and other kinds of encouragement and recognition, board certificati on as a means for improving teacher quality and boosting student achievement. A growing body of research links high-quali ty teaching to student academic success. In a Texas study, nearly half the variation in test sc ores between white and African-American students was attributable to differences in teacher quality (Ferguson, 1991). Researchers in a Tennessee study found that teachers have a cumulative effect on stud ent achievement. After three years of ineffective teachers, students scored at levels that were less th an half of those of their peers who had benefited from more effective teachers (Sanders & Rivers, 1996). Research evidence also indicates that board certified teachers are accomplished classroom practitioners. Results of the first study of the e fficacy of national board certified teachers (NBCTs), completed in the year 2000, demonstrated that tea chers who achieve board certification outperform their non-board certified peers on numerous dimensions of research-established indicators of teaching expertise, including knowledge of subj ect matter, ability to adapt instruction to different types of students, and capacity to develop challenging and engaging lessons (Bond, 2000). Goldhaber and Anthony’s (2004) initial large-scale study of board certified teachers used a North Carolina database to assess the relationship between board certification and elementary level student achievement. This study found that board ce rtification successfully identifies more effective teachers; that board certified teachers are more successful in increasing student achievement in mathematics and reading than are their non-board cer tified colleagues; and that NBCTs are the most successful with low-performing studen ts (Goldhaber & Anthony, 2004). In addition, other positive research has show n positive impacts of NBCTs on their students’ achievement and significant improvement of NBC Ts’ teaching practice as a result of the Board certification process (Vandervoort, Amrein-Beardsl ey, & Berliner, 2004; Cavaluzzo, 2004; Lustik & Sykes, 2006). However, the research on NBCTs and student achievement is not unanimously


Making Use of What Teachers Know and Can Do 3 positive. Mixed or statistically non-significant results were found in at least two studies (Sanders, Ashton, & Wright, 2005). Moreover, even among the those studies showing positive effects of NBCTs on student achievement, the size of the eff ect is small compared with the magnitude of gap between students in low-performing school s and their more advantaged peers. The debate over the relative benefits of NBCTs on student achievement is unlikely to be resolved any time soon and this study did not set out to resolve that debate. Instead, the study argues for a need to look more closely at the c onditions and circumstances necessary for NBCTs to contribute to the transformation of low-performing schools. Ulti mately, this is a policy study designed to explore the complex relationship b etween teacher quality, school context, and student learning. The study is based on the premise that policy makers need more insights into school improvement than can be gleaned from student achievement studies alone. As such, this study addressed a series of interrelated research questions, including investigations of the NBPTS founders’ theories of change concerning NBCTs and low-performing schools, the representation of NBCTs in low-pe rforming schools, the use of NBCTs in schools, especially low-performing schools, obstacles to the effective use of NBCTs in low-performing schools, and the conditions and circumstances necessary for NBCTs to contribute to the transformation of low-performing schools Methods The study employed a multi-method approach. Using multiple methods allowed us to confirm, or refute, hypotheses based on multiple data sources. Data collection activities included interviews with National Board founders, database analysis to determine the distribution of NBCTs across different kinds of schools, a survey of NBC Ts, case studies of 16 low-performing schools with concentrations of NBCTs, and multiple fo cus groups of NBCTs from across three states. Executive Interviews Executive interviews were conducted with a nu mber of the founders and key intellectual thinkers who gave birth to the NBPTS. These in dividuals included Lee Shulman, whose work on pedagogical content knowledge provided much of the intellectual foundation for developing the Board’s standards and assessments; James Kelly, foun ding president of the National Board; former North Carolina Governor James Hunt, who served as the founding chair of the National Board; Barbara Kelly, the first teacher chair of the National Board; and several key early staff people who helped give shape and substance to the idea of a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Executive interviews were conducted in person or by telephone and lasted approximately an hour each. The purpose of these interviews was to help the research team better understand the early thinking about the NBPTS as well as the roles the board’s founders believed NBCTs might play in ongoing school improvement efforts. Results of the interviews enabled the research team to place study findings in an historical context and provided a foundation for understanding the generalizability of our own emerging research findings.


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 7 4 Mapping the Distribution of NBCTs To answer the question about where NBCTs tea ch, the research team used the National Board’s database to examine the assignments of boa rd certified teachers by school type. We limited our analysis to NBCTs currently teaching in schools and to those who had earned board certification between1998 and 2003. We further limited our revi ew to NBCTs in the six states that have the largest number of board certified teachers—Califor nia, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina. Together these states repr esent 65% of all NBCTs nationwide (NBCT, 2004b).2 Surveys To learn more about NBCTs’ motivations and their roles and activities in their schools, we conducted a survey of a sample of board certified teachers. The sample of NBCT survey participants was drawn from the six states with the largest number of NBCTs. Table 1 displays the NBCT populations at the time of the survey, as well as how many participants were surveyed, how many responded, the response rate and the range of the weights used in the analyses featured in this paper. Separate samples were selected in six states. In each state, schools were originally assigned to one of 4 strata—elementary low-performing, elementary non-low performing, secondary low performing, or secondary non-low performing. For the purposes of survey sampling and analysis, we define low-performing schools as those with state te st scores in the bottom three deciles for two of the three years beginning in the 2000–2001 school year.3 Within each stratum a random sample of national board certified teachers (NBCTs) was selec ted, with slightly more NBCTs selected from the three states in which the case study schools wer e located. Later, it was discovered that the stratification variables could be improved, and all schools in the universe were reclassified. For some of these “improved” strata, an additional random sample of NBCTs was selected. Starting in March 2003, the survey was adminis tered to a total of 1,136 NBCTs. Three weeks after the survey was mailed, non-response follow-up telephone calls were made to the homes and schools of individuals who had failed to return a completed survey. Ultimately, 75% of the mailed surveys were completed and returned. In all analyses, participants were assigned weights based on their state, school level, and performance cla ssification. Because school performance level was reclassified, the weights vary somewhat by participant; the weight range is displayed in Table 1. Case Studies in Low-performing Schools To gather specific information about conditions and circumstances that enhance or impede NBCTs’ ability to serve as agents of school reform in low-performing school s, a series of case studies was conducted. Case study schools were located in California, North Carolina, and Ohio. We selected these three states because they are among the states with the largest number of NBCTs, represent different policy environments, and have em ployed varying policy strategies with regard to board certification and board certified teachers. 2 The distribution analysis is explained in detail in Humphrey, Koppich, and Hough (2005). 3 The calculation of the performance in dex used for survey sampling and anal ysis is detailed in in Humphrey, Koppich, and Hough (2005).


Making Use of What Teachers Know and Can Do 5 Table 1 Survey Population, Respondents, and Weight Ra nges, by State Elementary Schools Secondary Schools State and Statistic Low-performing Others Low-performing Others California Population 541 758 343 575 Sampled 57 57 57 57 Responded 29 51 40 47 Response Rate 50.9% 89.5% 70.2% 82.5% Weight 18.7 8.0–16.3 8.6 12.2–12.5 Florida Population 410 1995 266 1571 Sampled 30 30 27 33 Responded 22 27 23 21 Response Rate 73.3% 90.0% 85.2% 63.6% Weight 18.6 73.9 11.6 15.0–81.1 Mississippi Population 69 622 83 649 Sampled 30 31 30 53 Responded 22 22 22 32 Response Rate 73.3% 71.0% 73.3% 60.4% Weight 3.1 28.3 3.8 7.4–29.1 North Carolina Population 500 2231 415 2376 Sampled 60 57 57 93 Responded 51 44 43 63 Response Rate 85.0% 77.2% 75.4% 67.7% Weight 9.8 50.7 9.1–13.8 26.1–46.4 Ohio Population 180 610 164 719 Sampled 57 67 57 63 Responded 42 59 50 47 Response Rate 73.7% 88.1% 87.7% 74.6% Weight 4.3 4.8–11.3 3.3 2.5–17.2 South Carolina Population 238 1241 189 1458 Sampled 32 30 30 41 Responded 27 25 19 26 Response Rate 84.4% 83.3% 63.3% 63.4% Weight 8.8 49.6 8.3–10.4 21.9–77.4 Total Population 1938 7457 1460 7348 Sampled 266 272 258 340 Responded 193 228 197 236 Response Rate 72.6% 83.8% 76.4% 69.4% For cells where weights can not be detailed in a compact table, we present weight ranges.


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 7 6 Case study schools were selected using the NBPT S database. Determining specific case study sites involved a two-pronged sampling strategy. Fi rst, we identified all schools that were in the bottom quartile for two of the three years beginning in 2000–2001 on their state’s school assessment system. Second, we identified the number of NBC Ts in each of these schools. We found very few schools with large numbers of NBCTs, but we th eorized that a concentration of NBCTs would increase the likelihood of school improvement. As a result, we restricted the sample to those schools with at least 9% of their teachers (or 9% of a si ngle department of a secondary school) in order to give us a large enough pool to select from. We then analyzed available data on each school, sorted the schools by grade levels served, and contacted st ate and local officials for nominations of schools that they hypothesized showed promise based on the contributions of NBCTs. Initial site visits were conducted to the schools described above—six schools each in California and North Carolina, and four in Ohio.4 The research team analyzed the results of these visits and developed criteria to determine which of the schools to visit in stage two of the fieldwork. This decision was based on the degree to which potential case study schools provided a balance across the three states, were illustrative of one or mo re of the central themes regarding the impact of NBCTs emerging from the study, and/or showed some evidence of the promise of improvement with NBCTs playing a focal role in the change process. Nine schools—three from each state—were ultimately selected for second round site visits and the development of case studies. Focus Groups In conjunction with site visits, focus groups were convened in each of the case study states. California focus groups were held in Los Angeles and San Francisco, North Carolina focus groups in Chapel Hill and Durham, and Ohio focus groups in Cincinnati and Cleveland. Focus groups were composed of board certified teachers from both lo w-performing and higher-performing schools that were not represented by case study sites. Eight focus groups—three in stage one of the study and five in stage two—were conducted during the cour se of the research. These sessions were designed to provide a forum in which the research team wa s able to raise questions about emerging study findings as well as “test” preliminary research conclusions. Findings Federal, state, and local policies have, in recent years, encouraged veteran teachers to earn National Board certification. Implicit in these policie s is a strategy of improving student achievement by elevating the teaching profession and by encouraging accomplished teachers to work in the schools that need them most. This strategy is largel y consistent with the goals of the founders of the National Board, although the founders were well aware of the challenges associated with the strategy. We begin with a review of the origins of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the founders’ goals and objectives. 4 The research team originally planne d to visit six schools in Ohio, but due to a low concentration of NBCTs in Ohio urban schools (the population from which we were sa mpling), only four schools were available for the study.


Making Use of What Teachers Know and Can Do 7 The Genesis of the National Board In 1986 the Carnegie Forum on Education and Economy released A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century The Carnegie report focused attention on the need to improve the quality of teaching in order to improve student learning (Consortium for Policy Research in Education, 1989). Well-qualified teachers, asserted the report, were key to lifting still-sagging student achievement. But the conditions under which teachers worked, according to the report, were not conducive to creating the environment that woul d enable them to meet the demands of a soon-tobe-21st century education system. The Carnegie recommendations centered on building a profession of teaching. Teaching had always been an occupation or a semiprofession. The hallmarks of a profession—a codified, specialized knowledge base that frames the work and the assumption by the profession’s members of collective responsibility fo r enforcement of accepted standards and norms of behavior (Schlecty, 1985; Sykes, 1998)—were generally absent from teaching. The knowledge effective teachers need to be successful was not codified, and teaching operated as an individual, often isolating, activity. Moreover, teachers’ work was not bounded by a consensual set of professional standards or norms. In addition, teachin g had long been recognized as an unstaged or careerless occupation (Lortie, 1975; Sykes, 1983). It was not unusual to find a teacher performing the same tasks on the last day of the 20th year on the job as on the first day of the first year. And in what had become a well-known truism about teaching an individual had to move out to move up. In other words, the route to professional advancement was found in moving out of teaching altogether and into administration. Numerous studies of the teaching culture and efforts to establish teacher career ladders point to the dilemmas inherent in each. Studies of the culture of teaching consistently reveal norms and behaviors of individualism and egalitarianism that stymie the development of collaborative professional relationships (Hargreaves, 2003, 2005, 2006). Likewise, efforts to establish and sustain teacher career ladders that would provide fina ncial incentives for teachers to take on added responsibilities and assume new roles have foundere d on the teaching cultur e’s embrace of teacher equality (Malen & Hart, 1987; Brandt, 1990; Fi restone & Pinnell, 1993; Conley & Odden, 1995). The Carnegie report aimed to change much about the teaching career. As the report noted, “An essential ingredient of successful education refo rm is creating a profession equal to the task, a profession of well-educated teachers prepared to assume new powers and responsibilities to redesign schools for the future” (Carnegie Task Force, 1986). A Nation Prepared offered a new framework for teaching, a kind of professional quid pro quo. Teachers would have higher pay, more professional autonomy, and expanded career opport unities that would encourage capable people to enter and remain in teaching. In exchange, teachers would agree to higher standards for themselves and greater accountability for student performance. To build and sustain such a profession, the report, in clear and decisive language, called fo r restructuring schools to provide a professional environment for teaching, “freeing [teachers] to decide how best to meet state and local goals while holding them accountable for student progress” and developing a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards “to establish high standards for what teachers should know and be able to do and to certify teachers who meet that standard” (Carnegie Task Force, 1986).


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 7 8 The View from the Founders How did the founders see the purposes and potential of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards? Where did they place the NBPTS—or what would develop as the NBPTS —in the constellation of teaching and school reform strategies? Much of the foundational research that gave rise to NBPTS was conducted by Lee Shulman, currently President of the Carnegie Foundation fo r the Advancement of Teaching. Shulman is in many ways the intellectual godfather of NBPTS. Hi s conception of pedagogical content knowledge, or subject-matter teaching expertise (Shulman, 1986), provided the basis for much of the development of the standards and assessments. Sh ulman viewed the board from an individualistic rather than an organizational perspective. He saw the principal purpose as “making excellent teaching more salient and visible,” as a way of “ident ify[ing] real excellence in teaching.” At the time of the development of the NBPTS, Shulman says, he did not make the connection between national board certification and the larger goals of school re form. If board certification was to be part of some larger school reform calculus, he notes, the developers of NBPTS would have needed to rely on a different theory of action, one in which sc hools explicitly committed to expanded roles for NBCTs. Such a bargain was not an overt component of board development (L. Shulman, interview, February 5, 2004). Gary Sykes, currently professor of education at Michigan State University, worked closely with Lee Shulman on the research that led to th e creation of board. Sykes saw the purpose of the board fundamentally in occupational terms. He believed NBPTS would further the teacher professionalization agenda articulated by the Carn egie report, ultimately improving teaching both by reshaping teacher professional development (making it more rigorous and subject-matter based) and by offering the possibility of status differentiation within teaching that would “change the [unstaged] ethos” of the occupation. Before the NBPTS, Syke s reminds us, there were no standards of good teaching, at least none that were widely accepted am ong teachers. This lack of standards “held back teaching as a profession.” A professional consensus about what constitutes good teaching, even if the knowledge base was still in its developmental st age, would serve to “move and organize the field in ways that hadn’t previously occurred” (G. Sykes, interview, January 21, 2004). James Kelly, founding president of the board, made the explicit connection between improved teacher quality and increased student achi evement. He believed early on, he says, that NBPTS could improve teaching as a whole, primar ily by “giving teachers a common language” and “straightening out the intellectual content of what good teaching is” (J. Kelly, interview, January 20, 2004). Enhanced teacher quality, he believed, would lead to improved student achievement. Kelly, too, then viewed NBPTS from an occupational perspective. He saw the board as a vehicle to change the ethos of teaching. A primary goal, says Kelly was “creat[ing] a culture… in which teachers would communicate about practice and work collectively and collaboratively.” He believed board certified teachers would be offered “enhanced prof essional roles” that would enable them to use their expertise while remaining in the classroom. Kelly acknowledges that the founders were not explicit about what these roles might be, preferri ng for them to develop naturally as states and districts saw the opportunities (J. Ke lly, interview, January 20, 2004). Like James Kelly, James Hunt, former governor of North Carolina and the founding chair of the board, saw the purpose as “improv[ing] student learning, but to do so [we] first [had to] make sure that teachers [met] high and rigorous standa rds in both their knowledge of subjects and ability to teach it effectively. We [the founders] realized that we did not have a true teaching profession in the United States and we believed the National Board could get us there” (J. Hunt, interview, January 15, 2004). Finally, David Mandel, asso ciate director of the Carnegie Task Force on


Making Use of What Teachers Know and Can Do 9 Education and the Economy and an early vice-presid ent, also saw the board as a way to alter the shape of the career and make teaching a more attrac tive profession. As a result of NBPTS’s efforts, he believed, “Teachers would no longer practice as individual entrepreneurs” (D. Mandel, interview, January 28, 2004). Development of the board was designed to codi fy a shared knowledge base for teaching, to publicly recognize, in what has become, in the now-familiar vernacular of NBPTS, what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do. The aim was to acknowledge the inherent complexity of teaching; provide teachers with so me measure of control over their profession (teachers would shape the standards on which effective practice would be judged); enhance teachers’ professional opportunities while allowing them to remain in the classroom; and restore public confidence in teachers and teaching by making visi ble the knowledge and skills required of effective practitioners. Early strategists and implementers saw the board as having specific, albeit somewhat limited, purposes. Targeted specifically to increasing teacher professionalization, the founders believed the board would contribute significantly to improving the quality of teaching, and enhancing the status—and the attractiveness—of teaching as a career. The board was designed not as a stand-alone education improvement strategy, but as one component of the ongoing, seemingly limitless “steady work” (Elmore & McLaug hlin, 1988) of education reform. Once the National Board began certifying teachers in large numbers, an important question was: Where do NBCTs teach? Next we examine the di stribution of NBCTs and the efforts to ensure an equitable distribution. Distributing the Wealth5 It is a well-documented education dilemma that high-caliber experienced teachers often are in short supply in low-performing schools. As Education Week reported in Quality Counts 2003 “For states to end the ‘achievement gap’ b etween minority and nonminority students and those from rich and poor families, they must first end the ‘teacher gap’: the dearth of well-qualified teachers for those who need them most” ( Education Week 2003). As research has shown, the chasm between well-qualified and less-qualified tea chers in high-poverty (and typically lowperforming) schools and low-poverty (and typically hi gher-performing) schools can be vast. Figure 1 displays the statistics for teachers in grades 7 to 12 who hold neither a major or minor in the subjects they are teaching. As can be seen from Figure 1, teachers in high-poverty (low-performing) schools are far more likely to lack a major or minor in the sub jects they are teaching th an are teachers in lowpoverty (higher-performing) schools. The relative la ck of high caliber teachers in low-performing schools results from a confluence of factors. These include substandard working conditions, a paucity of incentives (including financial incenti ves) for high-quality teachers to choose difficult teaching environments, longstanding policies and practices related to teacher transfer and assignment, and the culture of teaching itself that awards greater professional standing to teachers in higherrather than lower-performing schools. 5 For a more complete treatment of this is sue, see Humphrey, Koppich, and Hough (2005).


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 7 10 42 51 32 41 64 32 61 24 30 20 40 51 17 50 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70EnglishMathScienceLife Science Phys. Science Social Studies HistoryPercent High-Poverty Schools Low-Poverty Schools Figure 1. Teachers in grades 7– 12 who lack a major or minor in the subjects they are teaching Source: Ingersoll, 2003. Attracting high-quality teach ers to low-performing school s is only half the dilemma. Retaining them at these schools can also be pr oblematic. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), teachers in schools with minority enrollments of 50% or more transfer at twice the rate of teachers in sc hools with fewer minority students. Moreover, when teachers transfer to different school s, even within urban districts, they tend to seek schools with higher student achievement, fewer black or Hispan ic students, and fewer students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (Hanushek, 2001). The founders of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards anticipated that the advent of board certification was likely to exacerba te this already pressing problem. But they were confident that states and districts would enact pol ices to mitigate it. As Lee Shulman pointed out, “The National Board did not create the maldistribut ion of well-qualified teachers. It [simply] acted like a stain on a slide, making existing structure s [and inequities] more visible” (L. Shulman, interview, February 5, 2004). Shulman thought “a ri sing tide would lift all boats.” In other words, when confronted with the skewed distribution of highly qualified teachers that board certification was likely to exacerbate, states and districts woul d take affirmative action to rectify the situation (L. Shulman, interview). David Mandel echoed the same sentiment in somewhat less prosaic words: “[We knew] the National Board would reveal more starkly the mess [in terms of teacher distribution] that already existed” (D. Mandel, interview, January 28, 2004). He and Gary Sykes agreed states and districts would need to act to assure an equitable distribution of board certified teachers and believed they would do so (G. Sykes & D. Mandel, interviews, 2004). James Kelly, the board’s founding president, knew there would be a “need to induce [board certified] teachers to go to difficult schools.” He was convinced this would take money, in the form of financial incentives, for which states and districts would assume responsibility (J. Kelly, interview, January 20, 2004). James Hunt, the former North Carolina governor, saw it primarily as a district responsibility to assure that low-performing schools ha d their share of NBCTs. As he said, “It is the school district’s job to place teachers where they are needed most” (J. Hunt, interview, January 15, 2004). How, then, has the emergence of national board certification shaped the distribution of highly accomplished teachers? Are board certified tea chers equitably dispersed among different types


Making Use of What Teachers Know and Can Do 11 of schools and different student populations? Have states and districts developed policies and incentives to lure board certified teachers to challenging schools? Where Do NBCTs Teach? Our research reveals that NBCTs are much more likely to be found in higher-performing than in lower-performing, schools. Moreover, states and districts have done little to develop policies and incentives to encourage NBCTs to choose challenging schools. Of the more than 40,000 NBCTs who have earn ed certification since the first certificate was awarded in 1993, nearly two-thirds (65%) are found in six states—California, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina. NBCTs in these six states thus provide a reasonable proxy for the nationwide distribu tion of board certified teachers.6 Of the 18,806 NBCTs in the six states who earned certification b etween 1998 and 2003, just 12% of them (2,297 teachers) teach in schools at which at least 75% of the students are e ligible for free and reduced-price lunch. Only 16% of NBCTs in these six states (or 3,076) teach in schools serving at least 75% minority students. And a bare 19% of NBCTs in these states (or 3,521) work in low-performing schools.7 16 12 19 05101520 Low-performing schools High-minority schools High-poverty schools Percent Figure 2. Percentage of NBCTs and all teachers teachi ng in high-minority, high-poverty, and low-performing schools. Sour ces: CDE (2004), FDOE (2004), MDE (2004), NBPTS (2004), NCES (2004), NCDPI (2004), ODE (2004) SCDE (2004); pr oject analysis. Figure 3 compares the percentages of NBCTs in low-performing schools in the six focus states. As can be seen, NBCTs are underrepresented in high-need schools in five of these six states. The exception is California, where th e distribution is more equitable. 6 The distribution analysis in this paper was completed in 2004 and incl udes NBCTs certified between 1998 and 2003. Prior to 1998, exploratory analysis showed that teacher data were frequently outdated. 7 For purposes of this study, low-pe rforming schools are defined as those wi th state test scor es in the bottom three deciles for two of the three year s beginning in the 2000–01 school year. We acknowledge that this definition does not allow for comparisons between schools in different states as state assessment system s differ. However, the bottom 30% of schools in a state is a reasonable proxy for low performance.


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 7 12 40 16 11 20 14 25 2626 25 17 27 33 0 10 20 30 40 50 CaliforniaFloridaMississippiNorth Carolina OhioSouth CarolinaPercent NBCTs All Teachers in State Figure 3. Percentage of NBCT s and All Teachers Te aching in Low-Performing Schools. Sources: CDE (2004), FDOE (2004), MDE (2004), NBPTS ( 2004), NCES (2004), NCDPI (2004), ODE (2004), SCDE (2 004); Project analysis. What causes California to be different from th e five other states? Data reveal that the difference is Los Angeles. As Figure 4 shows, Los Angles has a significantly higher percentage of NBCTs in low-performing schools than any of our six comparison states.8 60 11 20 14 25 25 17 16 26 28 26 27 26 65 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 Los Angeles CA (excluding LA) FloridaMississippiNorth Carolina OhioSouth CarolinaPercent NBCTs All Teachers in City/State Figure 4. Percent of NBCTs in low-performing schools in Los Angeles an d six states. Sources: CDE (2004), FDOE (2004), MD E (2004), NBPTS (2004), NCES (2004), NCDPI (2004), ODE (2004), SCDE (2004); Project analysis. 8 It should be pointed out that Los Angeles has a higher proportion of low-performing schools than do the six states. Using the project definition of lo w-performing school, nearly half of Los Angeles’ schools (48%) fall into the lowperforming category. By cont rast, 22.9% of schools in California excluding Los Angeles, 23.4% of schools in Florida, 25.2% of schools in Mississippi, 27.4% of North Carolina sch ools, 23.5% of Ohio schools, and 26.1% of South Carolina schools are low-performing.


Making Use of What Teachers Know and Can Do 13 Just above 40% of NBCTs in California (909 NBCTs out of a total of 2,261) teach in the Los Angeles Unified School District. As can be s een from Figure 5, large numbers of these board certified teachers teach in schools with high con centrations of poor, minority, and low-performing students. 18 40 26 61 84 60 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 High-poverty schoolsHigh-minority schoolsLow-performing schoolsPercent California (excluding Los Angeles) Los Angeles Figure 5. Number of NBCTs in various types of schools in Calif ornia and Los Angeles. Sources: CDE (2004), NBPTS (2004), NCES (2004); Project analysis. As Figure 5 also shows, when Los Angeles is compared to California without Los Angeles, Los Angeles outdistances the rest of the state in terms of numbers of NBCTs in challenging schools. What accounts for the difference in Los Angeles? The answer seems to lie in the support programs and financial incentives available to Los Angele s teachers who are interested pursuing board certification. LAUSD teachers who want to become board certified have two major support programs available to them. One is run jointly by the Un ited Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), the local teachers’ union, and the Los Angeles Unified School District. The other operates under the auspices of the University of California at Los Angeles. Both programs make an effort to recruit teachers who are already teaching in low-performing sc hools and want to remain there as NBCTs. As Figure 6 shows, these programs increase the number of NBCTs in low-performing schools in the district in part by achieving a high pass rate of teachers in these schools. API stands for Academic Performance Index, a California St ate Department of Education calculation based largely on student performance on achievement tests. Thus, the net effect of the Los Angeles support programs is to increase the capacity of teachers in low-performing schools to earn board certification. This targeted effort boosts the number of NBCTs teaching in challenging Los Angeles schools.


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 7 14 29 35 38 37 32 41 31 50 64 50 20 32 33 35 35 35 44 52 30 23 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 API 1API 2API 3API 4API 5 API 6API 7API 8API 9API 10Pass Rate (Percent) Los Angeles California (excluding Los Angeles) Figure 6. Pass rates in Los An geles and the rest of Californi a. Sources: CDE (2004), FDOE (2004), NBPTS (2003), NCES (2004); Project analysis. Does Money Matter? What about the impact of state and local fiscal incentives targeted to NBCTs? Does this strategy—offering added compensation to thos e who become board certified—have an effect on the distribution of NBCTs? Financial incentives, though important to NBCTs (79% of survey respondents said “potential for increased financial compensation” cont ributed significantly to their decision to pursue board certification), do not appear significantly to impact NBCTs’ choice of schools. More than 88% of NBCT survey respondents are currently teaching in the schools in which they earned board certification. The reason fiscal incentives seem to have little effect on the distribution of NBCTs may be found in the nature of the incentives availa ble. More than 30 states and dozens of schools districts offer financial incentives for teachers to pursue board certification, as well as additional compensation for those who earn it. However, few of these incentives are tied to teachers who teach in, or agree to move to, low-performing schools. The major exception is California. In 1998, California enacted a policy to pay an y teacher who earned board certification a onetime $10,000 bonus. Two years later, in July 2000, the state adopted a policy that awarded board certified teachers who teach in low-performing sch ools (defined as those below the 50th percentile on the state’s Academic Performance Index) a bonu s of $20,000 over a period of four years.9 This program represented a deliberate policy strategy to encourage the redistribution of accomplished teachers. In addition, all LAUSD teachers who earn national board certification are eligible for up to a 15% salary increase. Available state specific data do not allow a detailed analysis of whether these incentives have resulted in substantial movement of accomplished teachers. Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests that California’s targeted incen tive for NBCTs who teach in low-performing schools may not be targeted enough to persuade many of these teache rs to relocate to the neediest schools. 9 The state has since ended the $10, 000 bonus but retained the $20,000 bonus.


Making Use of What Teachers Know and Can Do 15 Under California’s generous definition of a low-performing school, more than 70% of teachers in Los Angeles, for example, became elig ible for the state bonus without changing schools. A similar pattern likely was evident in other urban districts in the state. Thus, the impact of this wellintentioned policy, meant to encourage accomplishe d teachers to choose more challenging teaching environments, was blunted by its own provisions. Moreover, if NBCTs from our case study schools are any indication, money alone—even a 20% salary jump—is not adequate to persuade NBCTs to seek out more challenging schools. As explained in the next section of this paper, a strong and supportive principal, collegial relationships, and th e availability of adequate resources are critical assignment conditions that must be in place if NBCTs are to consider transferring to lowperforming schools. What do the data about NBCTs and low-performi ng schools, then, reveal? First, NBCTs are not equitably distributed across schools that serve di fferent populations of students. In the six states with the largest number of NBCTs, poor, minority, and low-performing students are far less likely than their more affluent, majority, higher-performing peers to benefit from the teaching of an NBCT. Moreover, few incentives are tied to encouraging board certified teachers to choose lowperforming schools. The significant exception to th is pattern is Los Angeles. In this district, providing targeted support for National Board cand idates already working in low-performing schools has a salutary effect on both the number and distribution of NBCTs. To be sure, the maldistribution of NBCTs is only one aspect of the larger problem of the skewed distribution of well-qualified teachers and th e resulting maldistribution of resources among different types of schools. As policymakers craft policies designed to reward teachers who earn board certification, they must be mindful not to design policies that make the distribution of resources, including human resources, even more inequitable. Regardless of where NBCTs teach, we were also interested in how they are utilized by their schools and districts. Our assumption was that NBCTs possess skills and knowledge that are of valu e beyond the confines of their own classrooms. In the next section, we report on the utiliz ation of NBCTs by schools and districts. Paving the Way for NBCTs to Make a Difference—Enablers and Barriers What is known about how the knowledge and sk ills of NBCTs are used? What kinds of roles and responsibilities do they assume? Under what cond itions are they able to have an impact beyond their own classrooms? What are the barriers that im pede NBCTs’ opportunities to serve as change agents? An examination of the reasons NBCTs offer for seeking board certification is instructive in considering the ways in which NBCTs view their roles, responsibilities, and opportunities. NBCT survey respondents give improving student learning (95%), potential for increased financial compensation (90%), and “increased credibility of my teaching” (88%) as the top reasons for pursuing board certification. These reasons might be categorized as individually and personally affirming. They are a means by which NBCTs rein force their own sense of professional efficacy. Considerably lower on the list of reasons NBCTs offer for seeking board certification are “the possibility of career advancement while remain ing a teacher” (45%) and “the opportunity to influence changes at my school” (44%). For NB CTs, then, earning board certification is not necessarily seen as a step on the road to professional advancement. Interviews and focus groups corroborate that, for many board certified teachers, earning board certification is a personal and individual ac hievement. NBCTs undertook the process because they wanted to prove to themselves that they ar e accomplished practitioners. Many of them were


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 7 16 clear that they did not link board certification to larger or more expansive professional objectives (with the exception of earning more money).10 Having said this, it is important to note that NBCTs in our case study schools and focus groups, as well as NBCT survey respondents, were often actively involved in improving their schools. This inclination to assume various kind s of professional responsibility preceded earning board certification. Nearly three-quarters of NBC Ts (74%) say prior to becoming board certified, they were involved in developing and/or selecting curriculum materials. Of survey respondents, 71% served as team leaders for their grades, subj ects, or departments. More than two-thirds were involved in mentoring other teachers and servin g on school or district committees (68% and 66%, respectively). And better then 59% of all NBCTs pa rticipated in providing professional development prior to becoming board certified. We heard often from principals and colleague s that the NBCTs were their schools’ “natural leaders.” Yet despite NBCTs’ potential as teacher le aders, their opportunities to operate in this arena often are substantially dampened by two prevailin g conditions: the reluctance of principals to expand NBCTs’ professional horizons and NBCTs’ and their colleagues’ steadfast adherence to a culture of teacher egalitarianism. The Principal In the absence of a supportive and knowledgea ble principal, NBCTs find themselves in teaching situations in which their skills are, at be st, underutilized. While nearly two-thirds of NBCTs (60%) say their principals view board certification “very favorably,” nearly half (49%) say, “My administration is not supportive of roles outside the classroom [in which NBCTs might be interested].” In part, this lack of administrative support is related to principals’ general unfamiliarity with the National Board. In interviews at case stud y schools, it was apparent that, while principals may have heard of the National Board, they of ten are unaware of the dimensions of board certification—what it takes to earn it and what earn ing it signifies. Even those principals who have some knowledge of the National Board often expre ssed some skepticism about the import or impact of the process. Sometimes principal’s skepticism stems from a simple lack of understanding about the National Board itself. Sometimes it is the resul t of a negative experience, such as principals who told us of teachers they know whom they would not consider accomplished teachers, but who nevertheless earned board certification. Even principals who are knowledgeable about and supportive of the National Board seem unable to make effective use of NBCTs’ expertis e. They simply do not know how to strategically take advantage of NBCTs’ knowledge and skills to further school improvement. Some principals are reluctant to include NBCTs as part of the school ’s decisionmaking loop out of concern that doing so will reduce their own power and authority. Still others told researchers that they believe that acknowledging NBCTs harms the cohesion of the professional community they are trying to sustain at their schools. The result in these schools can be an unwritten code of silence in which teachers who earn board certification are neither publicly acknowledged nor professionally recognized. Interestingly, there seems to be something of a disconnect between NBCTs’ appraisal of their principals’ leadership skills and their assessment of principals’ efforts to incorporate NBCTs into their schools’ school improvement plans. board certified Teachers agree or strongly agree that the principal “has confidence in the expertise of teachers (87%); “works to create a sense of community at my school” (77%); “supports and encour ages teachers to take risks” (71%); and, “is 10 Just 15% of NBCTs say they pursued Board Certific ation because they want to become administrators.


Making Use of What Teachers Know and Can Do 17 strongly committed to shared decisionmaking” (66% ). However, just above a third of NBCTs (38%) report that their principal “uses NBCTs as a resource for school improvement.” More than half (58%) say, “My administration does not make an effort to include NBCTs in roles beyond the classroom.” Whatever the reason—lack of knowledge and understanding about the National Board, skepticism about the value of board certificat ion, a comfort level with traditional power relationships—NBCTs report (by more than 90%) that they are no more influential than other teachers on matters such as selecting curriculum and materials, determining the content of professional development programs, teacher hiring or evaluation, deciding how the school budget will be spent, or determining the focus of school reform efforts. NBCTs and Their Colleagues More surprising perhaps than principals’ reticence to include NBCTs in school improvement efforts is the attitude of NBCTs themselves an d their non-NBCT colleagues toward nontraditional teaching roles. If nothing else, the mindset of teach ers evident in this research illustrates that the culture of individualism and egalitarianism remain s alive and well in the profession. While 41% of NBCTs say their colleagues view board certificati on “very favorably,” nevertheless many NBCTs report experiencing less-than-welcoming relationshi ps with their fellow teachers. NBCTs say that they are often given the cold shoulder by non-NB CTs who assume board certified teachers will put on professional airs or seek a status “bump” they view as unwarranted or inappropriate in the ranks of teachers. As one NBCT told researchers, “I’m as ked what I’d want to do that [board certification] for. [It’s] only for teachers who want to be b etter than everyone else.” Non-NBCTs sometimes described their NBCT colleagues as “wannabes, ” interested primarily in self-aggrandizement. It is still the case in teaching that those who step outside expected roles and responsibilities can expect some form of colleague rebuke. Mo re than half of all NBCTs (53%) report that, “Teachers who are involved in innovation form a distinct and separate group in my school.” Nearly half (43%) say that, “My school culture is not wel coming of teachers stepping into leadership positions.” Thus, NBCTs go to considerable lengths to downplay any distinction between themselves and their non-NBCT colleagues. They are nearly uniformly wary of publicly asserting that board certification affords them—or should—di fferential professional status. The comment of one NBCT was echoed by many ot hers: “There are a lot of [non-NBCTs] who have the same abilities. I’m not sure NBCTs are better than others.” In one case study school, where a new principal was eager to involve NBCTs in a host of school improvement activities, the NBCTs themselves steered clear of such involvement and said it was because of colleagues’ history of negative attitudes toward NBCTs. When the principal attempted to ease the NBCTs into some school lead ership responsibility by having them provide the school-based professional development, the NBCTs refused. They said they might consider being professional development providers at another scho ol, but not at their own where they had to work with their colleagues everyday. NBCTs’ reluctance to stray much beyond the c onfines of what is traditionally considered “teacher work” seems to be inextricably bound in the still pervasive and persistent culture of teacher egalitarianism, the firmly held belief that, “A teach er is a teacher is a teacher.” The advent of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standa rds has done little to quell this professional sensibility. As one focus group member told us, “Nothing about the process [of becoming board certified] trains you to be a change agent. If you don’ t have it intrinsically, it’s really hard to stand up


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 7 18 to negative colleagues. It’s a lot easier to go in to your own [class]room, close the door, and just do your job well.” One district in which we found an altogether different expe rience for board ce rtified teachers was Cincinnati. In Cincinnati, the creation of th e lead teacher position has opened up a wealth of roles and opportunities for NBCTs. When A Nation Prepared was first released, the Cincinnati Public Schools and the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers used the report as roadmap for prof essionalizing teaching. They began in 1988 (prior to the launch of the National Bo ard) to develop a teacher career ladder, including the position of “lead teacher.” The goal of Cincinnati’s effort was to embed professional leadership roles for teachers that would not require them to become administrators. Cincinnati designated a number of school-based and districtbased roles for lead teachers, including department head, team leader, curriculu m specialist, staff development specialist, and peer evaluator. Lead teachers also served as members of joint district-union committees tasked with making significant decisions about instruction and resource allocation, and on intervention teams for low-performing schools. Some of these positions required teachers to leave classroom for period of time (typically three years); others did not. Initially, the district and union designed their own assessment procedures for those interested in becoming lead teachers. When bo ard certification beca me a reality, earn ing it became an alternative route to earning Cinc innati’s lead teacher credential. Being board certified is not a requirement for becoming a lead teacher, but having it gives an applicant an advantage. Figure 7. The Cincinnati Expe rience—Changing the Dynamics. NBCTs and Low-Performing Schools What we have learned from this research so far is that board certified teachers are not often found in low-performing schools and that, in the schools in which they are found, they often cannot or do not assume responsibilities in the service of school improvement. But we were still interested in understanding what it would take for NBCTs to choose the most challenging teaching assignments. Is there a set of circumstances and conditions that would make it more likely that highly accomplished teachers would select challenging schools and undertake the kinds of roles that might make a demonstrable difference in these schools? The answer to this question is “yes.” NBCTs were frank about the conditions that must be in place for them willingly to choose to teach in low-performing schools and the conditions that would make it possible for them to work to turn these schools around. In choosing a low-performing school, NBCTs say they want acknowledgment in the form of some sort of premium pay. They want their work to be recognized with dollars. But money alone clearly is not adequate. Only 4% of NBCT survey respondents say financial incentives have caused them to c onsider a move to a low-performing school.11 In addition to some form of additional compensation, more than 90% of NBCT survey respondents said that for them to consider a tr ansfer to a challenging school, one in the “bottom quarter of performance in your state,” that school must have an excellent principal, collaborative colleagues, and the availability of adequate instructional resources. In interviews and focus groups, NBCTs relate stories of low-performing schools th ey might have considered but for their concern 11 The data do not allow us to determin e if the problem is an insufficient number of targeted incentives, or that NBCTs are not convinced dollar amounts are high enough.


Making Use of What Teachers Know and Can Do 19 that the lack of adequate resources would hamper their ability to provide students with an adequate instructional program. NBCTs report that these conditions are interlock ing. Having one or two in place is not an adequate inducement for NBCTs to choose lowperforming schools. And NBCT focus group participants added another interesting condition: th ey want to be able to move to difficult teaching environments with a group of like-minded colle agues with whom they have previously worked. “Don’t make us transfer in one at a time,” th ey told us. “Let us go in teams or cohorts.” A “Rare Bird” among Low-Performing Schools: The Case of Adam Elementary School This study’s charge has been to identify the conditions and circumstances in which NBCTs can improve low-performing schools. To make this determination, we conducted case studies of 16 schools. Our hypothesis was that an isolated NBCT would be unlikely to be effective; it would take a concentration of NBCTs in a school to truly tr ansform that school. Based on this hypothesis, we searched the country for schools with high concen trations of NBCTs (9% to more than 30%) and made multiple sites visits to schools in North Carolina, California, and Ohio. In the case study schools with high concentrations of NBCTs we found more barriers to school improvement than opportunities and few success stories. For example, in 8 of the 16 schools, principals either were unaware of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards or expressed outright skepticism that NBCTs did or s hould have any special authority or skills. In two of the schools, NBCTs were isolated—in one secondar y school in a single department and in one elementary school in the classes for the gifted. Thus, they were afforded little or no opportunity to influence school-wide performance matters. In half of the case study schools, NBCTs themselves said that their colleagues were disdainful of the NBCTs’ assuming even modest leadership roles, such as leading school-based professional developmen t, so that even where the principal was eager for NBCTs to take on new roles, colleagues’ resist ance kept the NBCTs from doing so. And in all of the case study schools (with the exception of Ci ncinnati which has the Lead Teacher program, previously described), we found that taking on ro les beyond classroom teaching was attributed (by principals, NBCTs, and non-NBCTs alike) to these teachers’ “natural leadership” inclinations, not to their having earned national board certification. In addition, local circumstances such as budget cuts and teacher lay-offs undermined even the most concerted efforts to improve the school. Thus, despite the presence of multiple NBCTs, nearly all of our case study schools were stru ggling with the familiar litany of barriers to improvement. However, there was one school that stood out as an exception. Adam Elementary School is a rare bird among low-performing schools. Althou gh atypical among the schools we studied, the case study of Adam is instructive for understanding the role that both NBCTs and the national board certification process can play in improving schools. The Rare Bird Adam Elementary School Elementary is a ru ral North Carolina school serving 560 children in grades 3 to 5. At the time of this study, more than 60% of Adam’s students were enrolled in a free or reduced lunch program. Adam was also racia lly mixed with roughly equal numbers of AfricanAmerican and white students. In the 1999 school year, Adam struggled to have just over half of its students perform at grade level. By the time we first visited the school during the 2003 school year, 85% of students were meeting grade-level standa rds and the school was recognized as a North


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 7 20 Carolina School of Distinction, a label accorded schools that meet individualized benchmarks for “expected growth” with 80 to 89% of students. (See Table 2.) In addition, the school had met 20 out of 21 of its No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets. Despite the considerable progress made in raising student achievement, the principal and teachers were still working to raise the performance of African-Americ an males. During the 2004–05 sc hool year, the school met all of its AYP targets. However, the school also did not m eet its growth expectations and lost its “School of Distinction” status. Despite that setback, Adam Elementary School has made dramatic gains over the past six years. Table 2. North Carolina State Testing Resu lts for Adam Elementary School School Year Percent at or above Grade Level Rating 2004–05 84 No Recognition 2003–04 85 School of Distinction 2002–03 81 School of Distinction 2001–02 73 No Recognition 2000–01 62 No Recognition 1999–2000 56 Expected Growth Adam Elementary’s School journey from lowperforming to high-performing school began with new district leadership and a superintendent who built in mechanisms to support teachers in the district to earn national board certification. Importantly, Adam hired a new principal who was a veteran teacher from the school and an NBCT. Th e new principal hired a new assistant principal who was also an NBCT and encouraged Adam’s teac hers to pursue board certification. At the time of this study, 13 of Adam’s 25 teachers were NBCT s and four others were in the process of seeking certification. At least as important as the large numbers of NBCTs (including the administrators) at Adam, is what the state and district, school admini strators, NBCTs, and other teachers at Adam did to turn the school around. Next, we turn to a desc ription of these actions beginning with the state and district. State and District Policy It is not an accident that North Carolina has the largest number of NBCTs of any state. Under the leadership of Governor James Hunt, th e state created a climate of support for national board certification. As the founding chair of the board, Governor Hunt invested state funds to create financial incentives and preparation progra ms for aspiring NBCTs. More importantly, the Governor helped to create popular support for advancing the profession through the certification process. Currently 9,817 or almost 11% of No rth Carolina teachers hold board certification. Within this context, the school district actively promoted national board certification as central to its professional development an d school improvement strategy. The district superintendent was a particularly strong supporter of board certification and had garnered the support of the local business community. The Cham ber of Commerce publicized the large numbers of NBCTs as a selling point to businesses considering moving to the area. The district encouraged teachers to pursue national board certification th rough three pre-candidacy meetings each year for interested teachers. For candidates, the district sponsored monthly meeting s, held weekly support


Making Use of What Teachers Know and Can Do 21 sessions in the spring, and offered a 3-day weekend r etreat at a local hotel. In addition, the district held a recognition dinner for all candidates. For successful candidates, the district made it clear that they had a responsibility to contribute to the profes sional community as leaders of the district and school. Principal Leadership Within the context of supportive state and dist rict policies, Adam had the further advantage of having a principal and an assistant principal who had both completed national board certification. Having completed the certificati on process, they understood the concepts, language, and process of becoming an NBCT. The principal was an especially strong advocate of national board certification, having helped establish the district’s candidate support program. The principal and the assistant principal encour aged all non-NBCT teachers at the school to see themselves on a path to national board certifica tion. In order to avoid the professional jealousy apparent in some schools, the principal was careful to recognize the contributions of both NBCTs and those not yet certified. All teachers were expe cted to be active members in a community of learners. The principal viewed NBCTs as strong leaders with expertise, but emphasized the importance of collegiality and the expectation that all teachers needed to play leadership roles in some way. Most importantly, the principal used National Board standards and processes as the core of the school improvement strategy. For example, the principal embedded National Board standards into teacher evaluations, and used reflective writing as a way to encourage teachers to improve their practice. The principal also organized the school schedule to allow for more than 5 hours a week of common planning time for teachers. In addition, the principal encouraged teachers to use data for decisionmaking and to make their teaching more public through videotaping and observations by colleagues. All evidence suggested that with the principal’s leadership, the school had become a place where both children and adults were busy learning and honing their skills. NBCTs and School Culture At Adam Elementary School, decisionmaking wa s organized around various committees and teams. Learning teams began as a district initiative that was modified and expanded at Adam. By the 2003–04 school year, all Adam’s teachers participa ted in learning teams that met weekly for one hour, and focused on improving the school’s literacy instruction. The principal pointed to these learning teams as “the biggest catalyst for change” in the school. According to the principal, they provided th e structure and focus for teachers to learn from each other. While NBCTs led many of the co mmittees and learning teams, administrators emphasized that accomplished teachers who “had not made that choice” also filled formal leadership roles. Regardless of who led the learni ng teams, the activities were consistent with kinds of reflection and problem solving that are part of national board certification. As one teacher told us, “I think that the whole school…they’re hear ing more NBPTS language. Even if they’re not certified, not even going through the process. Th ey’re still hearing the language, they’re hearing (about) ‘impact on student learning,’ because we say it (and) because we know it.” Another teacher reported that the learning teams contribute directly to the number of NBCTs in the school, “And see, that’s our nondirect support. We’re supporting candidates in the next two years that we don’t even know about yet, because we’re already speaking the language.”


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 7 22 During our observations of learning team me etings, we were impressed with the focus on teaching and learning. Typical of these meetings wa s one with a group of seven experienced teachers (four NBCTs) and one very inexperienced teacher discussing what they saw in a videotape of strategies for teaching a vocabulary lesson. Much as they had to do in developing their own National Board portfolios, the NBCTs led a frank discussion about what was good and not so good in the videotape. The beginning teacher, new to her position and the school, asked her colleagues how much she was expected to follow the basal reading series with her class. NBCT teammates probed her for her preferences in instructional materials an d validated her own (limited) experience that real literature was preferable to basal excerpts for tea ching specific skills and fluency. They offered to share book lists matched to skills to be taught. One NBCT described how she sometimes brings in the entire book from which the basal excerpt was ta ken, to show students the real work and give them context for stories. At one point the young te acher appeared so intimidated by her experienced colleagues’ teaching expertise that she was close to tears. In a moment, the NBCTs were volunteering to come into her room to show her how she could teach in the way they were describing, assuaging her concerns, and assuring he r that soon she too would be teaching an expert vocabulary lesson. Perhaps the most striking feature of Adam Elementary was the amount of professional conversation about teaching and learning that occurred everyday at the school. As one NBCT put it, “Teachers talking about their practice is what this sc hool is all about.” Or as another teacher told us, “We are all reflecting now on what works and what does not. We are always questioning practice. That is what the National Board is all about.” The depth of the cultural change at Adam Elementary and in the district is illustrated by a recent debate over curriculum policy. A small group of NBCTs at Adam led a larger cadre of their colleagues in a presentation to the local school board, arguing against the acceptance of a $1.2 million federally-funded Reading First grant. For them the Reading First program came with “too many strings” and would force them to teac h reading uniformly. The teachers were able to point to the success they were having with thei r current approaches and argued for adapting instruction and materials to serve all students’ liter acy needs. The superintendent publicly backed the teachers and the school board voted to turn down the grant. Implications of the Adam Elementary School Success Story The success of Adam Elementary School is not simply a story of increasing numbers of NBCTs in the school. And, it is not just about having a supportive superintendent and administrators who are National Board certified. Th e Adam example points to the importance of the strategic use of NBCTs and the National Board standards to guide and promote school change. While most of the other schools that we visited helped us understand what conditions and circumstances created barriers to NBCTs contri buting to the improvement of low-performing schools, the Adam Elementary School example un derscores the importance of building a school culture focused on teaching and learning. Adam is a school where teachers and students are continually learning. Adam school culture was enabled by state policies that encouraged teachers to earn national board certification. In addition, districts po licies and support programs for National Board candidates, along with community awareness and support for NBCTs, were well aligned with the efforts underway at Adam. The fact that the principal and the assistant principal had both earned national board certification was crucial to their understanding of National Board processes and standards. However, it was their ability to infuse the National Board standards and the practices that


Making Use of What Teachers Know and Can Do 23 paralleled the certification process into the sc hool’s professional development and improvement strategy that made the difference in the school’s teaching and learning culture. Conclusion It remains to be seen if the National Bo ard for Professional Teaching Standards will transform the profession in ways that its founders envisioned. But our study suggests that in and of itself the National Board for Professional Teachi ng Standards is not an effective strategy for transforming low-performing schools. Major obstacl es stand in way of employing NBCTs to lead school reform efforts. As this study has shown, NBCTs are less likely to be working in the schools that serve poor, minority, and low-performing students than in schools that serve more advantaged students. Remedying this situation will not be easy. Once cer tified, few NBCTs voluntarily transfer to lowperforming schools. Although NBCTs indicate that financial incentives would be important for them to consider transferring to a low-performing school, they also point to the importance of good working conditions, a strong and effective prin cipal, and supportive collegial relationships. Although policymakers across the country are considering various financial incentives and differential pay schemes to attract NBCTs and other accomplished teachers to low-performing schools, our findings suggest that financial incentives alone are unlikely to succeed. A more promising approach was in evidence in Los Angele s and at Adam Elementary School. In both cases, the strategy was to identify and support teachers al ready in the schools to become board certified. This grow-your-own strategy took advantage of ex isting financial incentives and combined those with support and training programs. In the case of Adam, the school took the additional step of infusing NBPTS processes and standards into the da ily work of teachers. Key to taking that next step was the experience of the school’s admi nistrators with the certification process. As an aside, it is important to note that targeted financial incentives can have unintended consequences. In one school we visited with a small number of NBCTs, student test scores improved enough to move the school out of the lo w-performing category. No longer eligible for financial awards, newer teachers in the school were discouraged from earning national board certification. Regardless of where NBCTs were working, our study found that they were largely underutilized. NBCTs’ roles remained essentially the same following their certification, with the exception of their increased involvement in supporting certification candidates. A major element of this underutilization of NBCTs appears to be tied to the structure of the teaching profession and the subsequent lack of time available for NBCTs to ta ke on new leadership roles. However, as we saw at Adam Elementary School, creative principals can re organize their schools to allow teachers time to work together on instructional improvement. The National Board for Professional Teaching St andards was created as a long-term strategy for professionalizing teaching. The expectation is that the professionalization of teaching will eventually result in improvements in student learni ng. But, as this study illustrated, the placement of NBCTs in low-performing schools is not an eff ective stand-alone school-reform strategy. In our search to define the conditions and circumstance s necessary for NBCTs to improve low-performing schools, we started with the basics: NBCTs needed to teach in low-performing schools and be given opportunities to make contributions to school im provement beyond their own classrooms. This turned out to be disappointingly rare in practi ce. There was little evidence that NBCTs sought or were given the opportunity to move beyond the co nventional obligations of classroom teaching. Even when the basics were in place, we found a myriad of barriers to school improvement that impeded even the most creative group of NBCTs. Even in schools with adequate and stable


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 7 24 resources, aligned state, district, and school policies, and school administrators who were knowledgeable about the certification processes and standards, other conditions and circumstances were necessary for NBCTs to help transform a low-performing school. Most importantly, the culture of the school had to change in fundamental ways so that all teachers in the school were in a continuing process of learning and improving thei r practice. To allow for such learning, the school schedule had to be altered so that teachers had time to work together. And to have teachers learn together required that many of the norms of the profession had to change as well. For example, teaching would have to be a much more public activity so that each teacher’s practice could be examined. Similarly, the principal’s responsibilities would need to be primarily focused on teaching and learning. In addition, district officials would need to view their job as supporting teaching and learning. Thus, what this study found was that not onl y are NBCTs maldistributed and underutilized, but that the ability of NBCTs to contribute to th e transformation of lowperforming schools was dependent on the principal’s ability to use national board certification processes and standards as the center of a school improvement strategy as well as teachers’ own inclinations to view their profession differently. Establishing such conditions and circumstances and changing school culture largely defies the blunt instruments available to policymakers. However, policymakers can establish the preconditions necessary for the transformation of sc hool culture, including the equitable distribution of resources and the steps necessary to popula te low-performing schools with NBCTs. As our research shows, a key step requires making principa ls national board certified, or at least well-versed in national board processes and standards, and then trained in how to infuse national board processes and standards into the daily routine of their school. Policy-makers expecting NBCTs to contribute to the transformation of low-perf orming schools without the active support and participation of principals will be disappointed. References Bond, L., Smith, T. W., Baker, W. K., & Hattie, J. A. (2000). The certification system of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards: A construc t and consequential validity study Greensboro, NC: Center for Educ ational Research and Evaluation. Brandt, R. M. (1990). Incentive pay career ladders for today’s teachers: A study of current programs and practices. New York: SUNY Press. California Department of Education (CDE). (2004). 2003 Base API Data File, 2002 Base API Data File, 2001 Base API Data File Sacramento, CA: Author Retrieved March 29, 2007, from Carnegie Task Force on Teachi ng as a Profession. (1986). A nation prepared: Teachers for the 21 st century New York: Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy. Cavaluzzo, L. (2004, November). Is National Board Certification an effective signal of teacher quality? Alexandria, VA: CAN Corporation. Conley, S., & Odden, A. (1995, Summer). Link ing teacher compensation to teacher career development, Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 17 (2), 219–237.


Making Use of What Teachers Know and Can Do 25 Consortium for Policy Resear ch in Education. (1989). State education reform in the 1980s Philadelphia: Author. Retrieved March 29, 2007, from Publications_Policy_Briefs.htm Education Week. (2003). Quality counts 2003: If I can’t learn from you...Ensuring a highly qualified teacher for every classroom. Bethesda, MD: Author. Elmore, R. F., & McLaug hlin, M. W. (1988). Steady work: Policy, prac tice, and reform of American education. Santa Monica, CA: The RAND Corporation. Ferguson, R. (1991). Paying for public educati on: New evidence of how and why money matters. Harvard Journal on Legislation 28 475. Firestone, W. A., & Pinnell, J. R. (1993, Winter). Teacher comm itment, working conditions, and differentiated incentive policies. Review of Education Research 63 (4), 489–525. Florida Department of Education (FDOE). (2004) [School scores for all curriculum groups: Reading and math scores for grades 4, 5, 8, and 10, in 2001, 2002, and 2003]. Tallahassee, FL: Author. Retrieved March 29, 2007, from Goldhaber, D., & Anthony, E. (2004). Can teacher quality be effectively assessed? Seattle, WA: Evans School of Public Affairs and Urban Institute, University of Washington. Retrieved March 29, 2007, from PDF/410958_NBPTSOutcomes.pdf Hargreaves, A. (2003). Teaching in the knowledge society New York: Teachers College Press. Hargreaves, A. (2005). Educational change take s ages: Life, career, and general factors in teachers’ emotiona l responses to educational change. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21 967–983. Hargreaves, A. (2006, February). Teacher nost algia and the sustainability of reform: The generation and degeneration of teac hers’ missions, memory, and meaning. Education Administration Quarterly, 42 (1), 42–61. Hanushek, E. A., Kain, J. F., & Ri vkin, S. G. (2001, November). Why public schools lose teachers (Working Paper 8599). Cambridge, MA: Na tional Bureau of Economic Research. Hirsch, E., Koppich, J. E. & Knapp, M. S. (1998). What states are doing to improve the quality of teaching: A brief review of current patterns and trends A CTP Working Paper. Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, Seattl e, WA: University of Washington. (ERIC Document Reproduction Se rvice No. ED 427 007.) Humphrey, D. C., Koppic h, J. E., & Hough, H. J. (2005). Sharing the wealth: Nati onal Board Certified Teachers and the st udents who need them most. Education Policy Analysis Archives 13 (18). Retrieved March 1, 2006, from Ingersoll, R. (2003). Out-of-field teaching and th e limits of teacher policy Seattle, WA: Center for the Study of Teacher Policy.


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Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 7 28 About the Author Julia E. Koppich J. Koppich & Associates Email: Daniel C. Humphrey SRI International Heather J. Hough SRI International Julia E. Koppich is the President of J. Koppich & Associates. Daniel C. Humphrey is the Associate Dir ector of the Center for Education Policy at SRI International. Heather J. Hough was a Research Analyst in the Ce nter for Educatio n Policy at SRI International and is curr ently a doctoral student at Stanford University.


Making Use of What Teachers Know and Can Do 29 EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES Editor: Sherman Dorn, University of South Florida Production Assistant: Chris Murre ll, Arizona State University General questions about ap propriateness of topics or particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Sherman Dorn, Editorial Board Noga Admon Jessica Allen Cheryl Aman Mi chael W. Apple David C. Berliner Damian Betebenner Robert Bickel Robert Bifulco Anne Black Henry Braun Nick Burbules Marisa Cannata Casey Cobb Arnold Danzig Linda Darling-Hammond Chad d'Entremont John Diamond Amy Garrett Dikkers Tara Donohue Gunapa la Edirisooriya Camille Farrington Gustavo Fischman Chris Frey Richard Garlikov Misty Ginicola Gene V Glass Harvey Goldstein Jake Gross Hee Kyung Hong Aimee Howley Craig B. Howley William Hunter Jaekyung Lee Benjamin Levin Jennifer Lloyd Sarah Lubienski Susan Maller Les McLean Roslyn Arlin Mickelson Heinrich Mintrop Shereeza Mohammed Michele Moses Sharon L. Nichols Sean Reardon A.G. Rud Lorrie Shepard Ben Superfine Cally Waite John Weathers Kevin Welner Ed Wiley Terrence G. Wiley Kyo Yamashiro Stuart Yeh


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 15 No. 7 30 A rchivos A nalticos de P olticas E ducativas Editores Gustavo E. Fischman Arizona State University Pablo Gentili Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro Asistentes editoriales: Rafael O. Serrano (ASU) & Lucia Terra (UBC) Hugo Aboites UAM-Xochimilco, Mxico Armando Alcnt ara Santuario CESU, Mxico Claudio Almonacid Avila UMCE, Chile Dalila Andrad e de Oliveira UFMG, Brasil Alejandra Birgin FLACSO-UBA, Argentina Sigfredo Chiroque IPP, Per Mariano Fernndez Enguita Universidad de Salamanca. Espaa Gaudncio Frigotto UERJ, Brasil Roberto Leher UFRJ, Brasil Nilma Lino Gomes UFMG, Brasil Pia Lindquist Wong CSUS, USA Mara Loreto Egaa PIIE, Chile Alma Maldonado University of Arizona, USA Jos Felipe Martnez Fernndez UCLA, USA Imanol Ordorika IIE-UNAM, Mxico Vanilda Paiva UERJ, Brasil Miguel A. Pereyra Universidad de Granada, Espaa Mnica Pini UNSAM, Argentina Romualdo Portella de Oliveira Universidade de So Paulo, Brasil Paula Razquin UNESCO, Francia Jos Ignacio Rivas Flores Universidad de Mlaga, Espaa Diana Rhoten SSRC, USA Jos Gimeno Sacristn Universidad de Valencia, Espaa Daniel Schugurensky UT-OISE Canad Susan Street CIESAS Occidente,Mxico Nelly P. Stromquist USC, USA Daniel Surez LPP-UBA, Argentina Antonio Teodoro Universidade Lusfona, Lisboa Jurjo Torres Santom Universidad de la Corua, Espaa Llian do Valle UERJ, Brasil