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National Certification Program Established For Exceptional Social-Studies Teachers

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The National Council for the Social Studies has unveiled a program that will begin offering national certification this year to K-12 teachers who can demonstrate exceptional competence in teaching social studies.

The new credential, which has been four years in development, is one of a number of efforts nationwide to upgrade the teaching profession by providing recognition for teachers who excel.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is working toward developing national certification for highly qualified teachers in all subjects. And the National Science Teachers Association and the Music Educators National Conference have already begun making such credentials available to teachers in those fields.

"Teachers get so few rewards--Christmas presents from children, tenure, thank-you's from parents at open house," said Linda Biemer, dean of the school of education at State University of New York at Binghamton and chairman of the ncss task force on professional certification.

"This says that members of your profession have decided that you Lhave achieved at a much higher level than the 'average bear,"' she said.0

Ms. Biemer and Frances Haley, the executive director of the ncss, said the organization's certification could complement the work being done by the national board, which does not plan to begin offering certification in social studies until 1993.0

"Ideally, we would hope that the certification they adopt is our certification," Ms. Biemer said. .

Teachers who apply for the new social-studies credential must undergo a comprehensive evaluation process that requires them to compile a portfolio of student work, write descriptions of students in the class and their diverse educational needs, describe three to five days of lesson plans, and write a "reflective log" analyzing the successes or failures of those lessons.

"It's definitely not a deal where you send in an application and a check and you get a certificate in the mail," Ms. Haley said.0

Ms. Biemer said she expects no more than 100 teachers to apply for certification this year.0

The program, which was announced last month, is open to all experienced precollegiate teachers who have both a bachelor's and a master's degree and who demonstrate that they are continuing to take advanced courses in the field.

In addition to the other require ments, teachers must also submit a videotape that shows them in the classroom and illustrates how stu dents are responding to the lesson.

"We're very concerned with stu dent engagement of learning, not just what the teacher does," Ms. Biemer said. "Are half the students asleep?"

The teachers will also be judged on the degree to which they are in volved in organizations and political processes outside the school.

"We look at social-studies teach ers as exemplars of good citizens,'' Ms. Biemer said.

A committee made up of the task- force members who designed the program and teachers who have field-tested it will judge the applica tions this year. In subsequent years, teachers who have already achieved certification will judge the applications.

The application deadline is June 1, and the names of certified teachers will be announced in September.

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