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Published in Print: January 20, 1999, as Founding President of Master Teachers' Board To Depart

Founding President of Master Teachers' Board To Depart

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The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is in the market for new leadership.

After 11 years on the job, James A. Kelly announced this month that he will step down as the president of the organization by year's end.

"It's the right time professionally and personally," Mr. Kelly said last week. "Certification has achieved nationwide acceptance as the benchmark for excellence in teaching."

Founded in 1987, the national board is building a system to certify outstanding teachers. The nonprofit organization, privately launched but partially financed by the federal government, is based in Southfield, Mich.

The founding president's departure will mark a dramatic change for the national board, which is governed by a 63-member board of directors, two-thirds of whose members are practicing teachers.

The board intends to conduct a national search to replace Mr. Kelly, 64, who doesn't plan to take another job but will stay involved with various education projects. If necessary, he will remain on the job through 1999 as the search is conducted.

Barbara Kelley, a physical education teacher at Vine Street Elementary School in Bangor, Maine, who chairs the governing board, said the organization's "phenomenal" growth testified to Mr. Kelly's leadership.

"He has guided the board from its infancy to where we are today," she said. She added that she most appreciates Mr. Kelly's "outspoken, unwavering respect for teachers."

In the organization's early years, when members were debating who should serve as assessors to score candidates' portfolios, Mr. Kelly cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of teachers, Ms. Kelley noted.

'Firm Footing'

Some 7,000 candidates are working to become certified this year. The national board offers recognition in 12 fields and has completed work to set standards in 21 fields. So far, nearly 2,000 teachers have become certified. Eventually, the board hopes to offer certificates in more than 30 fields.

At the same time, districts and states have moved to create rewards and incentives for teachers to go through the rigorous process.

Arturo Pacheco, a member of the national board and the dean of the college of education at the University of Texas at El Paso, called Mr. Kelly's departure "an enormous loss."

"The good thing is that the board itself is on very firm footing," Mr. Pacheco said. "I don't think Jim would be leaving if he didn't know that."

Mr. Kelly said the national board has shown that the teaching profession can define and codify a knowledge base and create assessments that both identify outstanding teachers and provide candidates with a professional learning experience.

The organization itself, he said, also has served to bring together teachers, union leaders, teacher-educators, policymakers, and others involved in the field.

"I think it's fair to say that everyone has learned how to respect each other in a way that was simply not the case 11 years ago," Mr. Kelly said.

Vol. 18, Issue 19, Page 5

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