Spokane Public Schools among top districts in nation for National Board Certified Teachers

Posted by Communications Staff on 2/8/2023 1:00:00 AM


About ten years ago, relatively few Spokane Public Schools educators had chosen to become what many consider to be the highest symbol of professional teaching excellence – a National Board Certified Teacher, or NBCT.

It was then that Sacajawea Middle School teacher Laura Treece and then-Ferris High School teacher Jeff Halstead, aided by Spokane Educators Association, started a cohort to help other teachers navigate a very challenging process.

Thanks to what they started, there are now 379 active NBCTs in SPS, which ranks second in Washington only to Seattle Public Schools, according to the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). In fact, SPS is 17th in the entire nation for new NBCTs and 7th among school districts that aren’t county-wide.

For Treece, who has been an NBCT since 2005, the certification has opened doors for her as a professional and helped in the classroom.

“This process is really transformative. I did this as a teacher in my fourth year of teaching, and I think my fifth year of teaching was what my tenth year would have been had I not gone through the process,” she said. “I became a reflective practitioner, and this process requires you to be reflective of what you do in a classroom, every decision you make, everything you put in front of a student. It changes the way you think through educating. It’s the most valuable professional development I’ve ever done.”

The process is rigorous and can take anywhere from 200-400 hours to complete. It can be completed over multiple years and involves four main components:

Content Test

Teachers complete three, 30-minute essay questions and a multiple-choice test.

Student Work

Teachers submit student work samples that show growth for students over time, along with their own extensive writing that supplements the student work.

Recorded Lessons

Teachers record themselves in a learning setting, analyze their work and describe the learning environment they created.

Assessment Data and Learning Communities

Teachers submit formative, summative and self-assessment samples from an entire class or group of students, collect data, share what the data tells them, share how they used that data to inform their instruction, and provide evidence that they are connected to learning communities outside the classroom.

Being an NBCT has benefits for both teachers and school districts. For teachers, it comes with an annual bonus, moving their state teaching certificate from ‘residency’ to ‘professional,’ and access to a professional network.

For districts, it means high-quality educators are teaching in classrooms across the district, which improves student outcomes.

“There have been some national studies related to student growth with NBCTs compared to students without NBCTs,” Treece said.

The NBCT recognition has allowed Treece to network with others who are passionate about education. She’s attended national policy summits, thanks to her NBCT recognition and networking.

Treece is also the vice president of Spokane Educators Association, the local teachers union, which is a big proponent of helping teachers become NBCTs. SEA also provides the lowest cost support cohorts in the region to allow teachers to pursue certification.

“It’s been my goal in my time with the union to ensure we have the highest quality educators anywhere, and that’s why I’m proud that SEA was the fiscal agency for this,” she said. “It sends a message that we care about teaching quality. We want accomplished teachers in our association, in our district, in our classrooms. This distinction of having so many NBCTs shows we support teachers pursuing this growth model.”