Jefferson County Public Schools added the fourth most National Board-certified teachers last school year out of all districts nationwide.
And Kentucky added the sixth most board certified teachers out of all the states.
The advanced certification is a rigorous performance-based process that can take up to three years to complete. It’s a voluntary credential that compliments degrees and other standards that are required by individual states.
“It’s considered one of the highest certifications in the nation. It’s very rigorous. It’s voluntary. It’s not mandated that we have to have this to keep our job,” says Ruth Ann Sweazy, a board certified educator who works at Westport Middle School.
“If you think about other professions such as a lawyer, a doctor, a CPA, all those professions are board certified and they’ve gone through activities and events to prove that they know their profession and how to do their job,” she adds.
Finland is often held up as a model for how teachers should be prepared for the profession and respected in the culture. Here in the U.S. (and in Kentucky, too), the conversation about improving teacher preparation programs and college training has been emerging. But each state sets up its own standards that people must meet to become a teacher and many teacher prep programs aren’t adequate. This is one more layer of teacher development, says Sweazy, and it’s one of the top credentials a teacher can earn.
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards—known as the National Board—released data this week showing JCPS added 62 board certified teachers last school year. Only Los Angeles (167), Chicago (106) and Wake County in North Carolina (71) school districts added more.
Also, Kentucky has the 10th most board certified teachers in the nation with 2,980.
In Kentucky, teachers must earn a master’s degree after five years of teaching. To earn the National Board certification, which has been available for more than 25 years, teachers must have taught for at least three years. Also, it takes time and about $2,500. There are certain grants and other options that can help teachers pay for the costs.
The process includes creating a teaching portfolio and then passing an assessment. Some teachers can complete the credential in one year. Others may take as many as three years. Next year the expectations are changing so it may take new teachers a little bit longer, Sweazy says.
Kentucky’s goal is to get at least one board certified teacher in every school by 2020.
JCPS, has 65 schools that don’t have a board certified teacher, according to 2012-2013 school data. The top five JCPS schools with the most board certified teachers are duPont Manual with 12, Fairdale High and Stopher Elementary each have nine, and Ballard High and Farmer Elementary each have eight.