NC, Wake County educators lead nation in 'rigorous' teaching certifications

North Carolina and the Wake County Public School System continue to lead the nation with the highest number of National Board Certified teachers in the country.

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Classroom, students seated, kindergarten
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina and the Wake County Public School System continue to lead the nation with the highest number of National Board Certified teachers in the country.

Nearly 21,500 teachers in North Carolina have attained national certification, which is based on a rigorous performance-based assessment that typically takes from one to three years to complete and measures what accomplished teachers and counselors should know and be able to do, according to the state Department of Public Instruction.

Certification by the National Board is the highest credential in the teaching profession, and participation is voluntary. As a part of the certification process, candidates build a portfolio that includes student work samples, assignments, videotapes and a thorough analysis of their classroom teaching. Certification is currently available to educators in 25 fields.

North Carolina accounts for nearly one fifth (18 percent) of all teachers nationally who are certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Florida ranks second with 13,559 (11.5 percent of national total) followed by Washington (10,018), South Carolina (9,024) and California (6,755).

Nationally certified teachers also account for a larger percentage of the total teaching force in North Carolina than any other state, with 21.6 percent having earned the credential. South Carolina ranks second, with 18 percent.

North Carolina school districts continue to rank among the top 20 districts nationally for numbers of teachers with national certification:

  • Wake County remained first with 2,631
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg is fourth with 2,033
  • Guilford County is ninth with 768
  • Buncombe County is 17th with 563
  • Winston-Salem/Forsyth is 18th with 562

This marks the 12th consecutive year Wake County has had the highest number of National Board Certified teachers in the country.

In a statement, North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson said the national certification is significant not only for the teachers who earn the credential but also for the students they teach.

"Our state’s students are the winners when their teachers invest the time and effort to meet the demanding standards of national certification," Johnson wrote. "The certification process helps teachers strengthen their practice to be highly effective educators in their classrooms and able instructional leaders in their schools."

Teachers in North Carolina who achieve certification receive a 12-percent salary supplement to their regular pay that is good for the 10-year life of the certification. They also are awarded eight continuing education credits.

North Carolina supports teachers pursuing national certification by providing low-interest loans to pay the $1,900 assessment fee and three paid release days from normal teaching duties for new candidates to develop their portfolios. The State Board of Education also awards a North Carolina teaching license to out-of-state teachers who are employed in North Carolina and who possess the national certification.

In 2014-15, the national board revised its certification process to make it more flexible and affordable while maintaining the same standards. Teachers can still earn certification in one year but can choose to take several years depending on their personal circumstances. The overall cost has decreased and candidates may pay for and submit each component separately.

Wake County was the first in the nation to partner with the national board to create a program designed to support third-year teachers as they prepare to pursue board certification. In the district’s Beginner to Board-Certified program, participants attend professional development sessions throughout the year as a cohort and move together through the certification process starting in the fourth year of their career.

The national board also ranks the top 50 public and private universities and colleges with the highest number of alumni with the national credential. Nine North Carolina universities or colleges made the top 50:

  • Appalachian State University, first with 2,049
  • East Carolina University, second with 2,027
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, fourth with 1,350
  • The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, fifth with 1,335
  • The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, eighth with 1,195
  • North Carolina State University, 18th with 891
  • Western Carolina University, 20th with 863
  • The University of North Carolina at Wilmington, 21st with 826
  • Meredith College, 46th with 442


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