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Washington Remains Leader for National Board Certification

OLYMPIA — January 8, 2018 — Washington continues to be a leader in increasing its number of National Board Certified teachers.

Numbers released today by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) show that Washington has the most new National Board Certified teachers (NBCTs) of any state (1,434*). The total number of 10,135 NBCTs is third in the country overall.

Certification is a one- to five-year process that includes taking an assessment and assembling three portfolios. According to the NBPTS, completing the certification shows that each teacher knows and practices “the definitive standards of accomplished teaching.”

“Congratulations to all the newly-certified teachers and those who renewed their certificates,” said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “It takes a lot of sustained and intentional work to become a National Board Certified teacher, and it’s a testament to the dedication of our teachers that so many continue to pursue it.”

“The popularity of the program has taken a statewide effort,” Reykdal continued. “Governor Jay Inslee, the Washington Education Association, and the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession – as well as broad bipartisan legislative support – has not only put us on the NBCT map, but has kept us there.”

“Washington’s teachers are some of the finest in the country and this additional certification will make a tremendous difference to their students, schools, and communities,” Gov. Inslee said. “There is no more important job than a teacher as their work impacts countless lives and futures. I applaud these Nationally Board Certified teachers for their hard work and determination.”

In 2007, the Washington State Legislature began awarding a $5,000 bonus to each NBCT. Teachers can receive up to an additional $5,000 bonus if they teach in “challenging” schools, which are defined as having a certain percentage of students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch (50 percent for high schools, 60 percent for middle schools, and 70 percent for elementary schools).

Washington by the numbers for 2017:

  • Number of new NBCTs: 1,434 (national rank: 1st)
  • Number of renewed certificates: 533
  • Total number of NBCTs: 10,135 (national rank: 3rd)
  • 88 percent of all Washington’s NBCTs (about 8,900) remain actively engaged in education

“Washington’s educators are among the best in the country in large part because of the support we offer them to grow and develop,” said Kim Mead, President of the Washington Education Association (WEA). “I’m proud of the role WEA plays in supporting our members pursuing their national certification with high-quality training and peer support through this rigorous process. Our educators’ commitment to excellence is a reflection of their commitment to our students.”

“We are excited that so many accomplished Washington teachers have successfully demonstrated their ‘accomplished-ness’ in the classroom with students and are now NBCTs,” said Nasue Nishida, Executive Director for the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP).

“The Washington State National Board Network Partners (CSTP, OSPI, and WEA) have worked together to develop, maintain, and sustain a structure of support for teachers pursuing National Board; incentives after they achieve; and leadership development opportunities as they continue their journey in the profession. This year’s number is an indication that what we do in Washington state is working,” Nishida continued.

“More intentional and more focused”
Winlock, Wash., is about an hour’s drive north of Vancouver. Nearly four out of every five students at Winlock Miller Elementary School receive free or reduced-price meals. Tori Nelson is a fourth grade English language arts teacher at Winlock Miller and the first teacher in her district to become an NBCT.

Nelson said the process took three years. “I wouldn’t have done it without the support of the superintendent at the time,” she said. “She pushed me to do it and gave me the time. She saw something in me and felt like it was something I could accomplish.”

For Nelson, achieving certification forced her to take a deeper look at how she approached her job. “Teaching is a pretty difficult job,” she said. “When you have to break down every little thing you do, you’re forced to really reflect on everything you’re doing in the classroom. That pushes you to become more intentional and more focused. It also reminds you why you do what you do: to help kids. It’s a good incentive to keep the kids as your number-one focus.”

“There were days when I told myself that I was a better teacher than I thought,” Nelson added, “and there were days when I said, ‘Wow, I have a lot of things to work on.’”

Nelson noted that being an NBCT has put her in a mentor role in her district. “It’s one thing to teach children,” she said, “but it’s another thing to teach teachers. I think that’s a pretty good way to better yourself as an educator.”

Nelson said she would recommend other teachers going through the certification process. “Some people may look at it as just another hoop to jump through,” she said. “But it really is a process that makes you break down your teaching and helps you grow. It requires you to dissect what you do, and why you do it. That forces you to better yourself.”

About Board certification
Since 2009, Washington state has offered a conditional loan program to help candidates pay for the cost of certification. Loans are repaid by teachers with the bonuses they earn after becoming certified. To date, more than 4,000 conditional loans have been offered, and $5.5 million has been repaid to the revolving fund, allowing the state to continue to award future loans.

Certification consists of four components:

  1. An assessment of the teacher’s content knowledge.
  2. A portfolio showing work students have done and the teacher’s feedback to the student.
  3. Two videos of the teacher in the classroom, showing lessons taught and the interaction with and among students.
  4. A portfolio of “reflective” work: what the teacher does outside the classroom that translates in the classroom.

The last three components are assessed by a national panel of peers.

Created in 1987, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit organization devoted to advancing the quality of teaching and learning.

For more information

* This number varies slightly from the number reported by the Board. The Board relies on teachers to self-report and maintain their contact information. Some teachers choose not to share that information. OSPI relies on a combination of personnel data and Board data, which the Office considers to be more accurate.


About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Chris Reykdal, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and improve student achievement on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Director of the Office of Equity and Civil Rights at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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Nathan Olson
Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015 |

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015


   Updated 1/8/2018

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