Ellen McFall

Ellen McFall

By Ellen McFall

The decision to pursue National Board certification is one of the best decisions an educator can make to grow professionally and more importantly, increase student achievement.

In Kentucky, you must have taught for three years and have your master’s degree in order for National Board certification to count for your Rank I. However, you may begin the certification process before your master’s degree is complete. You will earn a $2,000 stipend for the life of the certificate and a permanent Rank I.

National Board certification is undergoing some changes. For this cycle (2015-16), only three of the four components are available to candidates at a cost of $475 each, with a $75 per year candidate fee. The first three components include a revised assessment center component (Knowledge of Content), a student work entry (Differentiation) and a video entry component. Next year, the final component will be released with a focus on professional growth. Visit the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards website to find more information about the requirements.

Now is a great time to get started! The Kentucky Education Association (KEA) is providing Jump Start & Homestretch training opportunities and materials. KEA will assign a mentor/candidate support provider to guide you through the process. To register for Jump Start or Home Stretch sessions, visit the KEA website.

The Kentucky Network to Transform Teaching (KNTT) is offering financial assistance to teachers pursuing National Board certification who are from schools without National Board certified teachers. To help achieve the goal (KRS 161.131) of having one National Board certified teacher in every Kentucky school by 2020, KNTT will reimburse qualified candidates for up to $275 in out-of-pocket expenses after the submission of one NBCT component for as long as grant funding allows. Applications are processed in the order they are received. Questions about the KNTT reimbursement can be sent to Suzanne Farmer.

Kentucky’s Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES) is mirrored in the National Board certification process. Consider the following questions that are used to guide the development of professional growth goals (PGG) and student growth goals (SGG):

  • What do I want to change about my practice that will effectively impact student learning? (PGG)
  • How can I develop a plan of action to address my professional learning? (PGG)
  • How will I know if I accomplished my objective? (PGG)
  • Based on my content standards, what are the enduring skills, concepts and processes students should master by the end of the school year/course? (SGG)
  • What does it look like for students to be performing at proficiency level on these skills, concepts and processes? How do I know? (SGG)
  • What are my students’ abilities? How have I collected and analyzed evidence/data to determine patterns, trends, strengths and weaknesses for all students? (SGG)
  • What professional learning is needed to support the SGG?
  • How can a professional learning community/colleagues’ expertise provide support? (SGG)

Now consider the relationship between those questions and the Five Core Propositions (one key component of National Board certification):

  • Teachers are committed to students and their learning.
  • Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.
  • Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.
  • Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.
  • Teachers are members of learning communities.

Kentucky’s PGES is based on Charlotte Danielson’s “Framework for Teaching” and is said to describe “what good teaching looks like.”  The National Board certification process rounds out the equation with “how you teach.”  Improving student achievement is a most worthy goal; students certainly deserve the best we have to offer. For librarians, there’s never been a better time to check it out.


Ellen McFall, St. Charles Middle School’s (Marion County) library media specialist, is a National Board certified teacher.