For years, North Carolina has long led the nation in the number of teachers holding National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification. That distinction is in part traceable to the role former Governor Jim Hunt played as the first chairman of the NBPTS Board of Directors and the encouragement and funding North Carolina provided teachers who sought certification. Last December, NC DPI reported that nearly 21,000 teachers in North Carolina have obtained certification. The certification, which is a higher standard than state licensure, is a lengthy process and costs about $2,000 to complete– some of which is reimbursable by certain states.
Is certification worth it? Some claim NBPTS certification leads to better teaching. Such thinking helped to pass legislation to award NBPTS certified teachers an immediate 12 percent salary supplement which is good for the duration of the certification (10 years). Opponents claim the NBPTS certification process merely attracts a higher quality teacher. Research to tease out NBPTS impacts has been inconclusive.
Last week, Mike Antonucci reported in The 74 that NBPTS finances are not in good shape. In 2010, NBPTS had $32.8 million in net assets. Seven years later NBPTS net assets totaled only $1.8 million. Antonucci reported that NBPTS needed a $1 million loan from the National Education Association just to stay afloat. (Another story but there is no time for that now). So, what happened? Someone knows, but isn’t talking – at least not yet. One thing is clear: it didn’t happen overnight. NBPTS assets have declined for seven consecutive years.
The problems may be self-inflicted. NBPTS certainly failed to deliver. NBPTS promised 100,000 certifications by 2003. It took 30 years however to reach that goal. Now NBPTS promises 1,000,000 certifications by 2025. Reachable? Who knows.
One wonders if the financial collapse is leading to a re-thinking NBPTS. Out of necessity the organization has sought to streamline the certification process and make it less costly. The fact is, with a hefty 12 percent increase as reward for NBPTS certification, many teachers will continue to pursue it. Still a larger question remains: what’s going on at NBPTS? And, should North Carolina encourage teachers to seek certification from an organization that has been on a long steady path of financial decline?