School & District Management

Standards Board Identifies Research to Examine Effects

By Debra Viadero — September 18, 2002 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, facing up to increased pressure to prove it can make a difference in schools, last week outlined plans for 22 new studies examining how its certification process affects the quality of teaching and learning.

The multimillion-dollar research program is a first for the Arlington, Va.- based group, which was set up in 1987 to establish a voluntary process of advanced certification for teachers, much like the medical profession has for doctors. Since then, the board has certified 16,444 teachers across the country. More than half the states and hundreds of school districts offer financial incentives to encourage even more teachers to seek the board’s seal of approval.

Only a handful of studies, however, have taken a hard look at what happens in the schools and classrooms of the teachers who complete the yearlong certification process. (“National Board Is Pressed to Prove Certified Teachers Make Difference,” Jan. 30, 2002.)

Even fewer have examined what some policymakers are beginning to see as the key question justifying any education innovation: Does it bring about improvements in student achievement?

“We want to answer that,” said Betty Castor, the board’s president. “We think we know the answer, but we want some independent verification.”

To find its answers, the group has set aside $6.6 million of its federal funds to pay for the studies and is working to persuade private donors to pitch in more. Ranging in cost from $52,000 to nearly $1 million, the investigations examine a wide range of effects—and potential effects—of the board’s certification system.

Four studies, for example, draw on student data from Florida, North Carolina, and Los Angeles, to see whether students learn more in the classrooms of board-certified teachers. Two more are looking at whether the program has a “spillover” effect in schools that enroll large numbers of poor children who score low on standardized tests.

“Much of the research is concentrated on individual teachers, and we want to see if a reasonable concentration of these teachers can make a difference schoolwide,” said Daniel C. Humphrey, a senior policy analyst at SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif., and the lead researcher on that study.

Another pair of studies also take a look at the program’s shortcomings. A major criticism of the organization, for example, has been that it certifies too few minority teachers— only 7 percent, or 1,153, of the teachers certified by the board are nonwhite. Minority teachers, meanwhile, make up 15.6 percent of the public school ranks and 10.5 percent of the private school ones. Those studies are looking for the causes of that imbalance and testing out ways to help more minority teachers earn certification.

Arm’s-Length Scrutiny?

To create some distance between itself and the researchers, the board hired the Santa Monica, Calif.- based RAND Corp. to vet the winning research designs from an original group of 109 proposals.

Some researchers, however, wondered whether the process was sufficiently “arm’s length” to keep any bias from creeping into the research.

“It’s good that the board is doing research on board certification,” said Michael Podgursky, a professor who chairs the economics department at the University of Missouri-Columbia. “We need more research, but we also need more arm’s-length research.”

Ann E. Harman, the board’s director of research, said such criticisms were not unexpected. “We know that there are people out there who, regardless of the quality of the research design or the significance of the questions, will still say the board funded this,” she said. “But we think that’s our professional responsibility, and we don’t apologize for it. We think it’s significant that this is an organization that puts its money where its mouth is.”

A full list of the research projects under way is available at the board’s Web site at www.nbpts.org.

Events

School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Creating Confident Readers: Why Differentiated Instruction is Equitable Instruction
Join us as we break down how differentiated instruction can advance your school’s literacy and equity goals.
Content provided by Lexia Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Q&A How K-12 Leaders Can Better Manage Divisive Curriculum and Culture War Debates
The leader of an effort to equip K-12 leaders with conflict resolution skills urges relationship-building—and knowing when to disengage.
7 min read
Katy Anthes, Commissioner of Education in Colorado from 2016- 2023, participates in a breakout session during the Education Week Leadership Symposium on May 3, 2024.
Katy Anthes, who served as commissioner of education in Colorado from 2016-2023, participates in a breakout session during the Education Week Leadership Symposium on May 3, 2024. Anthes specializes in helping school district leaders successfully manage politically charged conflicts.
Chris Ferenzi for Education Week
School & District Management Virginia School Board Restores Confederate Names to 2 Schools
The vote reverses a decision made in 2020 as dozens of schools nationwide dropped Confederate figures from their names.
2 min read
A statue of confederate general Stonewall Jackson is removed on July 1, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Shenandoah County, Virginia's school board voted 5-1 early Friday, May 10, 2024, to rename Mountain View High School as Stonewall Jackson High School and Honey Run Elementary as Ashby Lee Elementary four years after the names had been removed.
A statue of confederate general Stonewall Jackson is removed on July 1, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Shenandoah County, Virginia's school board voted 5-1 early Friday, May 10, 2024, to rename Mountain View High School as Stonewall Jackson High School and Honey Run Elementary as Ashby Lee Elementary four years after the names had been removed.
Steve Helber/AP
School & District Management Quiz Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About the School District Technology Leader?
The tech director at school districts is a key player when it comes to purchasing. Test your knowledge of this key buyer persona and see how your results stack up with your peers.
School & District Management Deepfakes Expose Public School Employees to New Threats
The only protection for school leaders is a healthy dose of skepticism.
7 min read
Signage is shown outside on the grounds of Pikesville High School, May 2, 2012, in Baltimore County, Md. The most recent criminal case involving artificial intelligence emerged in late April 2024, from the Maryland high school, where police say a principal was framed as racist by a fake recording of his voice.
Police say a principal was framed making racist remarks through a fake recording of his voice at Pikesville High School, a troubling new use of AI that could affect more educators. A sign announces the entrance to the Baltimore County, Md., school on May 2, 2012.
Lloyd Fox/The Baltimore Sun via AP