Education in Georgia is heading in a positive direction. Teacher evaluation is being revised, the Common Core Standards are being implemented, and teacher compensation is being reassessed. Two years ago, Georgia legislators passed House Resolution 248, which demonstrated their commitment to reinstating the stipend for existing National Board Certified teachers as the budget improved. This is great news for education in Georgia because much research indicates that certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has a significant positive impact on student learning.
This is also reaffirming for teachers in Georgia who need to feel confident that Georgia will keep its promises to teachers as new steps are taken towards implementing new performance and compensation policies. Georgia teachers deserve the affirmation that the steps they take to improve and validate their practice through these newly implemented strategies will be respected. When the legislature agrees to continue its commitment to National Board certified teachers, all teachers in Georgia will be assured that, as they get on board with these new programs for teacher evaluation and teacher compensation, Georgia will appreciate their efforts and uphold its commitment to teachers.
In 2000, the state of Georgia offered teachers much encouragement to validate their teaching practice by offering a 10 percent salary increase in return for earning and continually renewing National Board teacher status. Certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is a voluntary process and in no way implies that all teachers (even the very best) are required to begin or complete the process; however, those teachers that do choose this route with the intention of growing as a professional find that this certification has a positive influence on student learning. In 2002, 527 teachers in Georgia became board certified; however, in 2011, only nine Georgia teachers certified or renewed their certification because Georgia was no longer honoring its commitment to Board Certified teachers. Board certification is an expensive and time consuming process. Providing a financial incentive to those teachers who go the extra mile by becoming board certified and maintaining that certification throughout their career makes sense for the students in Georgia’s classrooms.
Approximately 2.5 percent of the nation’s teachers are Board Certified. The very rigorous multi-year process often takes two to three years to complete. The justification and confirmation of this process has taken 25 years of development and revision based on research supporting the ever changing demands of education theories and practices. Harvard’s Strategic Data Project’s study in Gwinnett County shows that Board Certified teachers are more effective than non-certified colleagues. The project’s findings in Los Angels, Cal., translated the date to the equivalent of two additional months of instruction in math and one month additional instruction in English Language Arts. Unfortunately, while there was a 6.9 percent increase of National Board Certified Teachers nationwide in 2011, there was only a 0.3 percent increase in Georgia for the same year. When Georgia teachers are confident that the state of Georgia will support their efforts, teachers will once again utilize such opportunities to strengthen and validate their practice. National Board Certification is a constructive response to the current nationwide discussion about identifying and compensating the best teachers. Visit www.nbpts.org to learn more.
National Board Certified Teachers in Georgia are very much looking forward to the stipend being reinstated. These Board Certified teachers have upheld their end of the promise by continuing the accomplished manner in which they teach the children in Georgia. These teachers are well aware of their responsibility in that promise by honoring all of the methodological and ethical duties in their profession. Although Board Certified Teachers in Georgia have tried to stay positive, after three years, the financial impact is a very hard reality. Many Georgia Board Certified Teachers were furloughed in addition to the loss of the 10 percent promised o them. The current Board Certified Teachers in Georgia made their own personal financial plans and commitments based on the promise that Georgia made them. They have had to prioritize so that they could continue to honor their personal financial commitments while continuing to do the job they love. House Resolution 248 is a reassurance that Georgia does indeed plan to honor its commitments.
All of Georgia’s teachers, current and future, need the reassurance that the state of Georgia will support its teachers as they pledge to meet the needs of Georgia’s future with renewed efforts in professional development.
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