302 teachers receive National Board Certification in Maryland

Anne Arundel leads the metro districts in adding teachers with the designation

December 15, 2010|By Liz Bowie, The Baltimore Sun

Just over 300 Maryland teachers received a national stamp of excellence Wednesday, enough to make the state seventh in the nation in the number of teachers who received National Board Certification.

The certification is a time-consuming and difficult process that requires teachers to submit evidence of their teaching effectiveness, including videotapes and proof of student learning, in addition to taking written exams.

In the metro area, Anne Arundel County had the largest number of new board-certified teachers with 61. Baltimore County had 10, Howard County had nine, and Baltimore City and Harford had eight each.

Montgomery and Prince George's had the highest numbers in the state.

Anne Arundel County has seen a significant increase in the number of teachers who seek to take part in the voluntary certification process, said Denise Levitine, who is in charge of supporting teachers seeking to get the certification. Anne Arundel has 273 board-certified teachers, the second-highest in the state behind Montgomery, which has 634. Anne Arundel is a much smaller district with 6,000 teachers.

The county has invested in encouraging and supporting teachers, Levitine said, because recent research by the National Research Council, a nonpartisan group, found that students taught by board-certified teachers generally score higher on achievement tests.

Levitine said the certification process makes even good teachers better "because it is all about teachers taking the time to stop and be reflective about their teaching."

Teachers have to videotape their lessons, watch the tape and write why they believe they are successful. In addition, they must take an exam that requires them to write six essays.

"It raises the level of teaching like nothing else does," she said.

About half of the teachers in the county who attempted the rigorous process fail the first year, which is a higher pass rate than the national average, she said.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which administers the certification, says it typically takes a teacher three years to attain it. The state certification process ensures minimum competence, but the national designation is an accomplishment that is supposed to indicate mastery. Across the nation, 91,000 teachers have the designation.

The state pays board-certified teachers $2,000 a year if they teach in a school that has more challenges than others. Teachers in all other schools receive an additional $1,000, which is sometimes matched by their district.

Five City College teachers in Baltimore received certification Wednesday, bringing the school's total to 11, according to English teacher Mark Miazga. The national board says Baltimore city has 46 board-certified teachers. Miazga said the teachers at the school have encouraged one another to raise the bar and create a new culture.

"We are really studying how we teach and what we are doing to make the students think and learn in the classroom," he said.


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