– Are they worth the cost?
Around 74,000 teachers now have been certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), and 32,000 teachers have been certified for more than half a decade.
The organization’s directory of teachers indicates that as of March 30, 2009 there are 1,605 active certified teachers in Kentucky, although state data implies somewhat fewer are actually working in positions where they qualify for annual incentive stipends.
Certainly, with so many teachers now certified, there should be some pretty decent data on how NBPTS teachers really perform.
And, given the initial costs of certification (at least $2,565) and the continuing extra $2,000 stipend that each certified teacher gets every year in Kentucky, which cost the state $2,464,000 in the 2007-08 school year, that evidence should conclusively show that nationally certified teachers make a big difference in the classroom.
Sadly, that isn’t the case. In fact, in a recent interview (free subscription may be required to fully access article) in the Phi Delta Kappan education journal, Suzanne M. Wilson was asked about the effects of being certified. She replied, “The effects and consequences of the NBPTS for teachers’ individual and collective work remains unclear.” Ms. Wilson went on to point out that there hasn’t been much exploration of ways to structure the careers of teachers with certification.
What makes Ms. Wilson’s rather unimpressive assessment of the situation more telling is the fact that she helped to write the NBPTS policy document that provided the framework for the organization’s standards. If anything, Ms. Wilson would be expected to paint the rosiest picture possible.
With an up front cost to date of over $4 million to nationally certify Kentucky’s 1,605 NBPTS teachers and with continuing annual costs of almost $2.5 million, it seems time to ask if the taxpayer might deserve a better bang for his bucks.