Does National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification Make a Difference in Student Achievement?
Why is this question important? Research indicates that teachers are a critical variable in improving student performance. National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification (NBPTS) is offered as a method that improves teaching and student learning. Certification requires hours of effort for teachers to meet NBPTS standards, and school districts are allocating scarce resources in the form of performance compensation to teachers who acquire certification. If certification does not improve student achievement, should teachers and schools redirect valuable time and dollars in pursuit of methods that produce better results?
See further discussion below.
Source(s): National Board Certification and Teacher Effectiveness: Evidence From A Randomized Assigned Experiment, 2008
Result(s): The study found no statistically significant differences between the math and reading test scores of students assigned to NBPTS-certified teachers and the test scores of students assigned to teachers who did not apply for NBPTS certification. It also provided results from recent research that looked for correlation between NBPTS certification and teachers with the largest estimated impact on student achievement (Goldhaber et al., 2005; Cavaluzzo, 2004; McColskey et al., 2005; Clotfelter et al., 2006; and Harris and Sass, 2006; and Sanders, et al., 2005). Such research generally found effect size differences of 0.05 to 0.10 between certified teachers and unsuccessful applicants in the impact on student achievement.
Implication(s): As currently designed, NBPTS certification is not an effective indicator of teacher competence, has a minimal impact on improving teacher performance, and is not likely to contribute to significant gains in student achievement.
Author(s): Steven Cantrell, Jon Fullerton, Thomas J. Kane, and Douglas O. Staiger
Publisher(s): National Bureau of Economic Research, 2008
Study Description: The study examined whether the scores issued by the NBPTS correlated with teacher impact on student achievement. It reviewed the literature, looking at the performance of NBPTS-certified teachers and the role certification played in improving student achievement. The literature review provided a summary of the effect sizes for six studies of NBPT certification between 2004 and 2006.
Additionally, a randomized controlled study was conducted. It compared the academic achievement of elementary students in Los Angeles assigned to NBPTS applicants with that of students assigned to comparison teachers who never applied for certification. The randomized trial used each applicant's certification, along with the applicant's NBPTS scaled score and subscores, to test whether the NBPTS score correlated with teacher impact on student achievement. The test scores of students assigned to NBPTS-certified teachers and teachers who failed to receive NBPTS certification were compared with those of students assigned to the comparison group, teachers who never applied for certification. The study was reviewed by What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) and was found to be consistent with its standards for a well-implemented randomized controlled trial study. Unfortunately, WWC did not provide easily comparable effect sizes for its own study that could be included in the above graph.
Definition(s): NBPTS: National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, a non-governmental organization offering certification to teachers. To acquire NBPTS certification, a teacher must have taught for at least three years, must submit a teaching portfolio that includes video recording of classroom teaching, and must successfully respond to essay questions to assess pedagogical knowledge. Unsuccessful applicants may retake any portfolio entries or essays. About two-thirds of applicants eventually meet certification requirements, and the process can take from three months to several years to complete.
Citation: Cantrell, S., Fullerton, J., Kane, T. J., and Staiger, D. (2008). National Board Certification and Teacher Effectiveness: Evidence from a Random Assignment Experiment. Social Science Research Network Working Paper Series.