SMMUSD HDQTRS — Public school officials last week celebrated the addition of four newly certified National Board teachers, raising the overall number to 52, six of whom are now administrators.

National Board Certification is a symbol of professional teaching excellence. It was created so that teachers, like professionals in other fields, can achieve distinction by demonstrating through a demanding performance assessment that they meet high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do, district officials said.

The teachers who most recently earned the certification are Sarah Frederick from Roosevelt Elementary School, who has been teaching for 11 years; Elizabeth Maccani at Webster Elementary School, who has been teaching for six years; Constanza Murcia from Edison Language Academy, who has been teaching for 14 years; Marybeth Reardon from Santa Monica High School, who has been teaching for seven years.

Though support for this process varies nationally, the school district offers support to its candidates by reimbursing them for all application fees, providing one-on-one support from current certified teachers, providing sub days while working on the process, and a monetary reimbursement for supplies when they complete the process.

When they achieve certification, the district offers a stipend for the 10 years teachers are certified in return for service hours in the area of professional development for colleagues. 

The National Boards for the Professional Teaching Standards is an independent, non-profit, nonpartisan and non-governmental organization governed by a board of directors, with the majority of its members being classroom teachers.

The NBPTS was created in 1987 in response to the 1983 President’s Commission on Excellence in Education report. The report, in addition to the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy’s Task force on Teaching as a profession report led to the development of the national boards.

Teachers must demonstrate their knowledge and skills through a series of performance-based assessments that include student work samples, videotapes and rigorous analysis of their classroom teaching and student learning. Written exercises probe the depth of their subject-matter knowledge and their understanding of how to teach those subjects to their students.

Teachers who have earned this certification say that they are strengthened in their practice and the beneficiaries of their improvement are the students in their classrooms, according to district officials.

Currently, SMMUSD has candidates from across the district pursuing National Board Certification. The teachers range from elementary to high school and their years of teaching experience vary. They will complete their process this June and will find out of they have certified from the national boards in December.

In California, 365 teachers achieved certification this year, for a total of 4,240, which helped make California sixth in the nation in the overall total of National Board Certified Teachers.

“As exciting as that sounds, just over 1 percent of California’s teachers are Nationally Board Certified,” said Dr. Samarge-Powell, coordinator of Teacher Support in SMMUSD’s Human Resources Department. “Whereas in our district, we have just over 8 percent of our 650 teachers who are certified. We are small, but mighty.”

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