Why You Should Consider Becoming a National Board Certified Teacher

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As a rock star teacher, you may be searching for something to challenge you and move your practice to another level. Perhaps you’ve heard the term National Board Certification (NBC), but don’t really know what it means.

National Board Certification has been an educational revolution going on since 1987. I encourage you to learn more about the process — and then consider becoming a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) in Health Education or Physical Education.

What is National Board Certification?

The National Education Association defines National Board Certification as “a voluntary, advanced teaching credential that goes beyond state licensure. NBC has national standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do. The National Board certifies teachers who successfully complete its rigorous certification process.”

Certification is available in 16 different disciplines — including Health Education and Physical Education — and four developmental levels.

Health Education certificates are available for Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood.  Physical Education certificates are available for Early and Middle Childhood as well as Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood.

Impact of National Board Certification

Becoming a National Board Certified Teacher will have a positive impact on both you and your students in many ways, such as:

  • Student Achievement — Research indicates that students of Board-certified teachers learn more than their peers who aren’t taught by an NBCT, and the positive impact of having a Board-certified teacher is even greater for minority and low-income students.
  • Commitment to Excellence — Schools with NBCTs are seen as having stronger teacher retention and involvement by the community.
  • Financial — More than half of all states offer free support, conditional loans and/or salary incentives to encourage teachers to pursue and achieve National Board Certification.
  • Respect — NBCTs are seen as experts and often sought out for leadership roles.
  • Validation — As health and physical educators, we strive to validate our content as academic.
  • “Oh…” Factor — It’s not uncommon in social situations to be asked what you do for a living. When you respond you’re a teacher, many times people excitedly respond, “Oh! What do you teach?” When I tell them I teach physical education, the response is a more tempered, “Oh…That’s nice.” There is no hierarchy in National Board Certification! Once you achieve certification, every NBCT, regardless of certification area, will understand and respect the rigorous, equitable process you completed to demonstrate you are an accomplished teacher.

Another important consideration is it doesn’t matter if you certify on your first attempt or need to retake part of the Components. Once you’ve successfully completed the process, you will be recognized as an NBCT!

What Does the National Board Certification Process Involve?

A teacher must have taught for a minimum of three years prior to pursing National Board Certification. Clear, concise, convincing evidence of the National Board Standards, Five Core Propositions, and the Architecture of Accomplished Teaching must be demonstrated.

Candidates must show a deep understanding of their students, content knowledge, use of data and assessments, and teaching practice.

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Teachers must also show they participate in learning communities and provide evidence of ongoing reflection and continuous learning within the submission.

To achieve certification, eligible candidates must demonstrate advanced knowledge, skills, and practice in their individual certificate area by completing four components: three portfolio entries and a computer-based assessment:

  • Component 1 — Content Knowledge (computer test)
  • Component 2 — Differentiation in Instruction (student work samples)
  • Component 3 — Teaching Practice and Learning Environment (two videos)
  • Component 4 — Effective and Reflective Practitioner (personal and student goals utilizing their learning community)

More NBCT Insights at #SHAPESLC

I have two final questions for you:

  • “Do you consider yourself an accomplished teacher?”
  • “Are you ready to prove it?”

If you answered yes to both of the above, let’s meet and chat about it! Join me at 2:45 pm on April 22 for my national convention session, So You’re Thinking of Pursuing National Board Certification!

The session will culminate with new and renewed Physical Education NBCTs reflecting and answering the ultimate questions: “Was going through the process worth it?” and “You’re an NBCT…now what?”

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Additional Resources


Susan Leonard
Susan Leonard

Susan Leonard achieved National Board Certification in 2013 and is currently an Arizona NBCT Network Board Member. In 2012 she was chosen as Arizona’s Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year and in 2014-15 she served as president of Arizona Health and Physical Education. Susan is best known for her child advocacy work, which included serving on the SHAPE America taskforce that modified the SHAPE America National Standards into kid-friendly language.