BALTIMORE – Maryland teachers may soon choose to try out for an elite national group that recognizes excellence among educators.
At its meeting Tuesday, State Board of Education members watched a video detailing aspects of a new certification program offered by the National Board of Teaching Standards. The eight- year-old group, a non-profit offshoot of the Carnegie Corp. of New York, seeks to improve education.
The competitive national program would enhance teaching skills and increase teachers’ dialogues with their colleagues — both in their own school systems and across the country — a Department of Education study group told the board.
The proposal is part of an effort by the Maryland State Department of Education to improve the state recertification standards. Teachers who succeeded in national program might be allowed to forgo some state requirements.
Participation in the national program is voluntary for teachers.
To receive the national certificate, teachers first compile a portfolio with work samples, written exercises and a video of themselves teaching a class. Those who go on to the next level attend a workshop with discussions, interviews and more written exercises.
“This is an extensive, time-consuming process,” said Rochelle Clemson, assistant state superintendent of certification and accreditation.
Members of the study group asked the board to encourage local school districts to raise the salaries of teachers who complete the program. If salaries cannot be raised, successful participants should be given other rewards, the group said.
But some state board members were so impressed that they want to go further – to ask the General Assembly for funding to pay the $975 test fee for any teacher who attempts the process.
Board member Edward Andrews said he liked the national program because it focused on teaching skills rather than on having teachers take more classes. “I like the structure of this so much I think we ought to pay for it,” he said.
The program has already received high grades in the few states and cities that have adopted the process, Clemson said.
“Many teachers want that recognition of their excellence,” she said.
David Mandel, vice president for policy development for the national certification group, said that with the high rate of departures from the profession, “we need to find ways we can encourage our strongest teachers to stay involved with teaching.”
Clemson expressed concern, however, that the national certification is so new that Mandel’s group has not developed standardized programs for teachers in some subjects. -30-