The continuum of teacher development and National Board Certification
Teacher and students sitting at classroom table
As California’s attention has been focused on filling positions to address an unprecedented teacher shortage in the last few years, far less attention has been paid to deepening the expertise and skill set of those teachers already in the classroom. One often overlooked and misunderstood professional learning opportunity is the National Board Certification program offered through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Certificated staff who become National Board Certified teachers by completing this rigorous, advanced certification process can provide valuable expertise and exemplary leadership for school sites. They can act as teacher leaders on school campuses through roles including team leaders, department chairs and instructional coaches.

High-quality teaching has a direct impact on student outcomes and facilitating the continuous professional development of teachers can support a district’s vision and goals for student learning. National Board Certification focuses on evidence-based strategies that create a highly effective teacher who can maximize the achievement of every student. Research from the Harvard Strategic Data Project shows that teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District who participated in National Board Certification outperformed other teachers with the same level of experience, increasing student learning to the equivalent of one to two months per school year, particularly for low-income students. Research from the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement also shows that the turnover of National Board Certified teachers was much lower than the average teacher, and retention in the profession much higher.

“The National Board Certification process was the most meaningful, enriching and rigorous professional development in which I have ever participated. Not only did my teaching improve, but my definition of what I as a teacher should know and be able to do also changed, especially with regard to assessing students, improving my practice, and developing a student-centered, personalized approach,” said teacher Jamin Lynch on the NBPTS website.

California districts can help teachers improve their craft by encouraging and supporting teachers’ participation in professional learning that counts toward certification awarded by the NBPTS. Toward this end, districts can coordinate a cohort of teachers through their county office of education, the National Board Resource Center at Stanford University, or school or district-based programs. Teachers may participate in flexible coursework on their own that supports them toward National Board Certification or in a district- or county-sponsored certification program. The National Board Resource Center at Stanford provides support for districts to organize professional learning opportunities for individual teachers or cohort certification. Districts can also consider adding National Board Certification into the goals of a career continuum for teachers.

“There is a strong alignment between the California Standards for the Teaching Profession, EdTPA and the National Board Certification process. This makes promoting National Board Certification an effective way to develop the entire teacher continuum. In addition, teachers pursuing certification emerge rejuvenated, inspired and ready to lead,” said NBRC Director Linda Bauld.

Districts may allocate funds to create an incentive program, consistent with the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan and collective bargaining agreement, to recognize and support exemplary teaching practice. This program may provide fee support and substitute teachers to defer the costs of teacher participation. It could also include salary incentives or stipends for those who have achieved National Board Certification and continue to teach in the district, particularly at Title I or low-income schools. School districts and schools can use LCAP funds as well as U.S. Department of Education grant funds — including Title I, Part A; Title II, Part A; and IDEA, Part B funds — for costs associated with pursuing, achieving and maintaining National Board Certification, as well as related resources for beginning teachers.

CSBA has partnered with the National Board Resource Center at Stanford University to update sample board policy BP 4112.2 – Certification with additional information and best practices for districts that would like to support their teachers in obtaining certification.

For further information, see: