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National Board Announces First Teacher Certificates

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Eighty-one middle school teachers from 23 states last week became the first educators to earn national certification recognizing their expertise.

The announcement marked a milestone for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, a private group formed in 1987 to set high standards for teaching and certify teachers who meet them.

"This was no popularity contest, but a real test of knowledge and skill," said Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. of North Carolina, the chairman of the national board. "These teachers prove each day in the classroom what accomplished teaching means and is all about."

The teachers who were awarded certificates were among 289 candidates who completed a field-test of the assessments designed for generalists who work with children in early adolescence.

An additional 252 candidates finished the exercises designed for middle school English-language-arts teachers. They will find out this summer whether they met the standards of accomplished teaching that the assessments are designed to measure.

Rewards and Incentives

Both assessments are available nationwide. The board is also field-testing assessments for four more certificates. Eventually, the Detroit-based board will offer certification in more than 30 fields.

The assessments require teachers to demonstrate their knowledge and skills--through videotapes of their classroom work, portfolios of their students' work, essays, and interviews. Candidates spent months compiling portfolios based on their work, and then attended two-day sessions at assessment centers. (See Education Week, 04/20/94.)

Connie Mitchell, a Detroit teacher who earned national certification, said the assessments "uncovered and clearly defined my strengths and weaknesses as a classroom teacher."

"The national board has taken the vision of teacher professionalism that we've had for decades and turned it into a reality," said Scott R. Muri of Banner Elk, N.C.

It will be up to districts and states to decide whether and how to reward teachers who become certified or participate in the assessments. Several states and districts have developed policies to encourage teachers to seek certification, including paying the $900 fee to undergo the assessments.

Teachers interested in seeking certification can call the national board at (800) 22-TEACH.

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