s an issue that is currently under some scrutiny.  I hope to do a detailed essay on this subject in the near future.  For now I’d like to point readers at an opinion piece by Andy Rotherham of th Progressive Policy Institute.  Originanally appearing in Education Week, the entire text also appears at the PPI Website here under the title “Credit Where It’s Due.”

To summarize briefly, Rotherham accepts the research that finds that NBPTS certified teachers provide higher quality instruction than doe their non-certified peers, but criticizes the fact that such teachers are rarely find in high poverty and low performing schools.  He comes down in favor of using the extra stipends received by such teachers to at least in part motivate them to move to schools more in need of improvement.

Recommend or not as you see fit.
Let me offer at least a few selections, although it is very hard to make meaningful extracts from this article, as its flows together very thoroughly.

Education Week | Column | March 30, 2005

Credit Where It’s Due

By Andrew Rotherham


Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared in Education Week.


It’s well known that low-income and minority students are less likely to get the best teachers. What is less known is that despite emerging efforts to deal with this problem, other local, state, and national policies reinforce the inequitable status quo. Obvious culprits include various seniority provisionsin collective bargaining agreements, single-salary scales that offer little or no incentive for teachers to take challenging assignments, and archaic teacher-licensing systems.  

Thinsg working against equity include the state incentives for teachers who earn NBPTS certification:

These well-intentioned incentives, designed to reward teachers who complete the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification process, are generally divorced from efforts to make the distribution of top-flight teachers more equitable. The result is that as policymakers and educators focus on the interrelated equity challenges of improving teacher quality andturning around low-performing schools, national board-certified teachers arelargely out of the game.

After giving some background on the development of the standardes, which includes substantial federal investment, noting the number (ove 32,000) who have achieved certification, and the cost of undergoing the processing ($2,300), Rotherham notes

Some states and school districts help cover the cost of candidate applications, which would otherwise be borne by individual teachers. The most notable form of support, however, is the creation of salary differentials for teachers with thecertification. Forty-nine states and 530 localities offer some sort of incentive or recognition for these teachers. More specifically, 30 states andthe District of Columbia offer bonuses or higher salaries for board certification. The Progressive Policy Institute estimates that, combined, even during the past few lean years for state budgets, states are spending at least $100 million annually on board-related salary enhancements alone.

He disagrees with those who criticize the effects of NBPTS certification

New research by Dan Goldhaber and Emily Anthony of the Urban Institute suggests that nationally certified teachers are at least marginally more effective than both average teachers and teachers who sought, but failed to earn, national certification. This new research is much more rigorous than previous studies of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and should be taken more seriously. Though more research is obviously needed, the Urban Institute researchers’ finding is reason for cautious optimism that the certification carries some value in identifying especially effective teachers.  

He focuses instead on what he considers the poor distribution of those who received such certification

Figures from the national board estimate that about 37percent of board-certified teachers are teaching in high-poverty schools, which are defined as schools receiving Title I money. Yet Title I funding is an imprecise proxy for poverty. Fifty-eight percent of all U.S. public schools receive some Title I dollars. Thus, even this estimate of only about one in three probably overstates the true distribution of board-certified teachers in genuinely high-poverty schools.

He quotes researt that supports this:

A 2003 study led by Goldhaber found that nationally certified teachers in North Carolina were disproportionately teaching in more affluent districts, as well as districts with fewer minority students. A 2004 study by SRI International examined distribution in the six states with the most board-certified teachers — California, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina. These states account for about 65 percent of all board-certified teachers nationwide. The SRI researchers found that only 12 percent of nationally certified teachers teach in schools with more than 75 percent of their students receiving free or reduced-price lunch; only 16 percent teach in schools with more than 75 percent minority student populations; and only 19 percent teach in a school in the bottom third of performance for its state. Put plainly, you’re unlikely to find a national board-certified teacher in a school that is high-poverty, high-minority, or seriously struggling.

He notes that part of the intent of NBPTS was to supply more highly qualified teachers to schools in the categories just listed.

Indeed, addressing these inequities was a primary rationale behind the teacher-quality provisions in the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Yet, despite this, states and the national board have done little to engage board-certified teachers in efforts to address the disparities. Nationwide, only three states — California, Illinois, and New York — offer robust salary incentives for board-certified teachers to work in low-performing or high-poverty schools. (In addition, the American Federation of Teachers’ Connecticut affiliate offers incentives to teachers in that state who work in hard-to-serve schools.) It’s worth noting that of the states SRI studied, California had a more equitable distribution of nationally certified teachers than any other.  

He offers suggestions to address the inequitable distribution of NBPTS certified teachers:

By making two interrelated changes, states can better align incentives for national certification with efforts to help high-poverty schools. First, states should make the maximum pay differentials and bonuses for nationally certified teachers more substantial than they are now. Only eight states offer incentives of $5,000 or more. The incentives also must be sustained over time. Because of state-level budget constraints and growth in the number of board-certified teachers, some states are cutting funding for such programs. Small stipends and uncertainty about funding weaken the leverage of these incentives.

Second, states must link these incentives to their efforts to help hard-to-staff schools meet the No Child Left Behind law’s highly-qualified-teacher mandate, or to otherwise help struggling schools improve. Ideally, states should tie bonuses and salary increases to service in high-poverty or low-performing schools. Short of this, states could make incentives conditional on service or mentoring as part of school improvement initiatives undertaken by states or districts.  

He commends recent efforts in SC and GA to address the issue, but cautions

While ideally states would build on existing differentials for board-certified teachers, state finance is far from ideal. In fact, the obvious equity issue notwithstanding, proponents of differentials who are resisting state efforts to better target the incentives actually have a self-interest here as well. Without better alignment of these salary differentials with broader state policy goals, such as ensuring that at-risk students get top teachers, it’s likely that in many states the differentials will simply be reduced in the future, as increasing numbers of nationally certified teachers make them unaffordable.

The federal government also should get into the game. Washington can partner with states and play a useful role here. During the 2004 campaign, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry proposed offering federally funded incentives to board-certified teachers who teach in high-poverty schools. It’s a good idea, and one straightforward approach to doing it would be for the federal government to match or otherwise enhance state-based incentives for board-certified teachers who work in high-poverty and struggling schools, thereby helping increase the impact of state dollars.

He urges to NBPTS itself to play more of a role, offering several strategies

Providing various financial incentives, waiving renewal fees for board-certified teachers in high-poverty schools, or even creating special certifications and endorsements for board-certified teachers accomplished in teaching in challenging schools are just a few ideas.

Helping struggling schools means that states must use all of their resources as effectively as possible.  Larger and better-targeted bonuses and pay differentials for nationally certified teachers will ultimately leveragegreater educational improvement than smaller and more diffuse incentives divorced from broader state and national school improvement efforts.

Considering the magnitude of today’s teacher-quality challenge, policymakers cannot afford to leave this impressive cadre of teachers behind.

As one who has just completed his initial submissions (and I hope this will be the only submission needed) for NBPTS certification, who does NOT teach in a high poverty or low performing school, and who will received a $5,000/year differential when I am successfully certified, I found this article pertinent, even though I believe that there should be some differential for those of us who do not teach in high impact schools.  After all, if the assertion is that all students are entitled to better teaching quality, incentives should be applied boradly, even if more should be offered more challengeing students.  My school is substantially minority (more than 55% African-American for starters), we have a fair share of students who have not previously had the kind of instruction we can and do provide.   But I also acknowledge that the issue of equity raised by Rotherham has validity as well.

If you want to know a bit more about Rotherham, here’s what the website from which I extracted the article has to say:

Andrew J. Rotherham is the director of the 21st Century Schools Project at the Progressive Policy Institute, and he writes the blog Eduwonk.com. He is also a member of the Virginia state board of education and serves as the chairman of the board of the National Council on Teacher Quality.
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