BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — Research shows that students who have national board certified teachers in the classroom make higher gains academically.

“Students who have national board teachers in front of them in the classroom basically gain two months of education,” said Dr. Bridget Phillips, coordinator in the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Early & Elementary Learning. “They’ve shown through standardized tests that students who have national board certified teachers rank higher than other students.”

In effort to help West Virginia students be part of that statistic, the West Virginia Department of Education is holding professional learning sessions to help educators obtain National Board Certification (NBC).

The first was held this week at the Bridgeport Conference Center at Charles Pointe.

“It allows teachers, kindergarten through 12th grade, to obtain a national board certification similar to other professions,” Phillips said. “Basically, what that does is it helps them develop their craft of teaching. It gets them really in tune to professional standards and what they’re already doing in the classroom.”

Becoming nationally certified is voluntary, but hundreds of West Virginia’s teachers are giving up their summers to go through the process.

“We do an awareness day, so if it’s someone who’s just not real sure of the process, they can just attend the first day and really get an overview of exactly what the expectations are and what they need to do,” Phillips said. “Then the other two days are what we call support. That’s digging way deeper into the standards, into their specific certification.”

The national board offers up to 25 certifications in various disciplines in grades kindergarten through 12.

During the sessions, educators break into groups to look deeply into what each of those certifications entails.

“Basically they’re taking teacher standards and really digging deep into the standards so that they know exactly what they need to include when they’re writing,” Phillips said. “It’s really just a process of ‘Here I am,’ just becoming a really reflective educator. They take a lot of time looking at the professional teaching standards and kind of rewording it into something personal for them, so that when they go to write, they can show evidence from in the classroom of how they are reaching these professional standards.”

West Virginia is one of only 19 states that gives incentives for teachers to become nationally certified.

“The West Virginia Department of Ed provides support for them in the form of cohorts that we have across the state, as well as one-to-one mentors,” Phillips said. “Our support doesn’t stop here after this day. It really helps them through the whole process, from registration to submission.”

And the Mountain State’s teachers certainly take advantage of the opportunity.

“We’re ranked 15th in the nation for the number of board certified teachers in West Virginia,” Phillips said. “There’s 996 teachers that have gone through the certification process in West Virginia. It’s really exciting. It’s a good positive thing that we have for teachers now.”

The sessions are offered each summer, along with renewal support to renew the certification every five years.

“It has grown tremendously,” Phillips said. “I try to encourage everybody sitting here to go back and talk to people in their county, make sure they understand, let them know about these sessions that we’re having over the summer and so hopefully we can spread the word.”

The second session is July 9 through 11, at the Holiday Inn West, South Charleston. Sessions are scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

“We have over 100 teachers registered,” Phillips said. “Hopefully all of these teachers will go back to their counties and spread the word, and we’ll get more and more.”

For more information, contact Kristin Anderson at the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699 or Kristin.Anderson@k12.wv.us.

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