FLORENCE – Three Florence School District One teachers and one Marion School District Four teacher recently earned national board certification for teaching, thanks in part to Francis Marion University and Pee Dee Electric Cooperative.
Carol Hill, Janice Brandis, and Cynthia Wood of Florence, and Janice Richardson of Marion were certified.
A 63-member board, made up of classroom teachers and others, governs the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The national certification brings teachers the respect and recognition of professional development and is a symbol of professional teaching excellence. National Board Certification complements, but does not replace, state licensing.
Teachers are evaluated on subject matter knowledge, classroom management principles and professional judgment, and the ability to convey complex material in ways that students can understand.
Last February, Pee Dee Electric Cooperative donated $30,000, the largest gift given in the state dedicated to nationally certifying teachers, to FMU to establish a program through which Pee Dee area teachers may be certified.
Cost of the certification process is $2,000. Because of the Pee Dee Electric gift, FMU makes $1,000 per teacher available toward the cost.
As of November 1998, only nine counties in the state have incentive programs for national board certification of teachers and only eight teachers in the state had earned such certification.
To become nationally certified by the board, a teacher must complete a two-part self-paced, independent assessment. The first part of the assessment is conducted at the teacher's school. The teacher builds a portfolio to show evidence of good teaching practices and to demonstrate how their teaching meets advanced standards in their field.
The portfolio is prepared according to instructions provided by the National Board and contains videotapes of classroom teaching, lesson plans, and student work samples. The portfolio also holds reflective written commentaries that detail what the teacher is doing and why.
The second part of the assessment process is a series of written exercises to assess the teacher’s ability to design curriculum, assess student learning, and test the teacher's subject matter knowledge.
The entire assessment process takes place over a five to six month period, during the school year. Most candidates say they spend about 120 hours on the assessment activities.
Portfolio entries and assessment exercises are scored by teachers who have attended an intensive training workshop and who have qualified for scoring by demonstrating understanding of the National Board standards.
Several other Pee Dee region teachers are involved in the national board certification process through the FMU program. Teachers in process have a three-year period in which they may redo or complete their work for scoring. Certificates are valid for 10 years.
For each teacher who earns national certification, the State of South Carolina will reimburse the teacher the $2,000 application fee and give a $2,000 one-time bonus.