M. D. Gall's home page

filename: design memo #4: NBPTS

date: 1/9/01



National Board for Professional Teaching Standards:

Implications for Teacher Education


M. D. Gall

University of Oregon


This working paper is about the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS--hereafter "the Board") and its implications for our teacher education programs.

The web site home page for the Board is http://www.nbpts.org/. You will need Adobe Acrobat to read some of the forms and tables.

In the following sections, I include a series of quotes from the Board's web site. They are set off in a different font, and their web address is cited.

At the end of this working paper, I mention possible implications of the Board's work for teacher education program design.

The purpose of the Board is to (1) establish high standards that define what a master teacher should know and be able to do, (2) operate a system to assess and certify teachers who meet these standards, and (3) support reforms that improve student learning. (see <nbpts.org/about/index.html>)


The standards are built around five propositions (www.nbpts.org/standards/five-props.html):

1. Teachers are committed to students and their learning.

2. Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.

3. Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.

4. Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.

5. Teachers are members of learning communities.

A total of 16 Oregon teachers have earned a Board certificate (www.nbpts.org/state_by_state.pdf) or click on "State by State Listing" on the home page.)

The Board has created, or is in the process of creating, a set of certificates. Each certificate has a developmental level and subject area associated with it. For example, a teacher can earn a math certificate at the early adolescence level (ages 11-15). The full list of certificate options can be found at www.nbpts.org/standards/summaries.html.

Each certificate has a set of standards associate with it. For example, the language-arts certificate at the adolescence/young adulthood level has the following fifteen standards associated with it (see www.nbpts.org/standards/aya-ela.html).



The requirements for the Adolescence and Young Adulthood/English Language Arts certificate are organized into the following fifteen standards. These standards have been ordered to facilitate understanding, not to assign priorities. They are each important facets of the art and science of teaching English language arts to adolescents and young adults. They regularly occur in conjunction with one another given the seamless quality of exemplary practice.


Preparing the Way for Productive Student Learning

I. Knowledge of Students

Accomplished AYA/ELA teachers systematically acquire a sense of their students as individual language learners.


II. Knowledge of English Language Arts

Accomplished AYA/ELA teachers know their field and draw upon this knowledge to set attainable and worthwhile learning goals for



III. Engagement

Accomplished AYA/ELA teachers actively involve each of their students in language learning.


IV. Fairness

Accomplished AYA/ELA teachers demonstrate through their practices toward all students their commitment to the principles of equity, strength through diversity, and fairness.


V. Learning Environment

Accomplished AYA/ELA teachers create an inclusive, caring and challenging classroom environment in which students actively learn.


VI. Instructional Resources

Accomplished AYA/ELA teachers select, adapt and create curricular resources that support active student exploration of language processes and of a wide range of literature.


Advancing Student Learning in the Classroom

VII. Integrated Instruction

Accomplished AYA/ELA teachers frequently integrate reading, writing, speaking and listening opportunities in English studies and

across the other disciplines.


VIII. Reading

Accomplished AYA/ELA teachers engage their students in reading and responding to literature, as well as interpreting and thinking deeply about literature and other sources.


IX. Writing

Accomplished AYA/ELA teachers immerse their students in the art of writing for a variety of purposes.


X. Discourse

Accomplished AYA/ELA teachers foster thoughtful classroom discourse that provides opportunities for students to listen and speak in many ways and for many purposes.


XI. Language Study

Accomplished AYA/ELA teachers strengthen student sensitivity to and proficiency in the appropriate uses of language.


XII. Assessment

Accomplished AYA/ELA teachers use a range of formal and informal assessment methods to monitor student progress, encourage student self-assessment, plan instruction and report to various audiences.


XIII. Self-Reflection

Accomplished AYA/ELA teachers constantly analyze and strengthen the effectiveness and quality of their teaching.


XIV. Professional Community

Accomplished AYA/ELA teachers contribute to the improvement of instructional programs, advancement of knowledge, and practice of colleagues in the field.


XV. Family Outreach

Accomplished AYA/ELA teachers work with families to serve the best interests of their children.

The certification process is described by the Board as follows (http://dynsa.tpcweb.com/nisinq/faq/geninfo.htm#Question 1):

Assessments are based on the NBPTS Standards in each of the certificate areas. All NBPTS assessments consist of two major parts, the portfolio entries and the assessment center exercises. While the specific directions to candidates vary from one assessment to another, the major parts of the assessments are stable over all certificate areas currently offered.


The portfolio

Candidates assemble a portfolio according to specifications given in the directions and materials sent to them. The portfolio consists of several different entries, each of which asks for direct evidence of some aspect of the teacher's work and an analytical commentary on that evidence. There are four different classroom-based entries, two of which ask candidates to videotape classroom interactions, and two of which ask candidates to collect student work of particular kinds. In all four classroom-based entries, candidates are required to write a detailed analysis of the teaching reflected in the videotape or student work.

In addition to completing the classroom-based entries, candidates are required to document their work outside the classroom with families and the larger community and with colleagues and the profession. In these entries, which emphasize the quality of the contributions rather than the quantity, candidates are asked to show evidence of their accomplishments and then comment on the impact and importance of those accomplishments.


The assessment center exercises

For certificates 1-17, the assessment center portion of the process consists of a full day of assessment exercises that are focused on pedagogical content knowledge. Assessment center exercises ask candidates to respond to specific prompts, some of which may be based on stimulus materials that are sent out to candidates well in advance of the assessment center date.

The exercises may be simulations of situations to which teachers must respond or explorations of particular questions on pedagogical content topics and issues.

The following is additional information about portfolios ( see www.nbpts.org/seeking/portfolio.html).


Portfolio requirements vary from assessment to assessment, but they are all based on the National Board standards for that particular certificate area. Carefully reading and understanding the standards is a crucial first step for candidates. The Guide to National Board Certification -- the application package for National Board Certification -- contains suggestions on how to study and analyze the standards in preparation for the assessment. Click here to request for an application package.

Each candidate receives detailed instructions and materials on how to put together his or her portfolio, using current classes and students to provide evidence of accomplished teaching practice.

The goal of all these exercises is to document that teachers meet National Board standards.

The following example of a portfolio exercise (for the early childhood/generalist certificate) can be found at www.nbpts.org/seeking/sample.html.


The Portfolio: Early Childhood/Generalist

The portfolio of the Early Childhood/Generalist assessment gives teachers the opportunity to present a sample of their actual classroom practice over a specified time period. The portfolio consists of five entries:

Introduction to Your Classroom Community -- Teachers are asked to show how they structure their time, establish rules and routines and organize space and materials in ways that promote children's social development, mutual respect and emerging independence. Teachers submit a written commentary and an accompanying videotape that highlights their interaction with children.

Reflecting on a Teaching and Learning Sequence -- Teachers submit a written commentary and supporting artifacts which show how they nurture children's growth and learning as they explore an extended theme or topic drawn from at least two content areas -- social studies and the arts. Click here for specific examples of this entry.

Engaging Children in Science Learning -- Teachers are asked to feature a learning experience that engages children in the investigation of a science concept. Central to teachers' written responses is a detailed examination of a learning experience they videotape. They are also asked to describe how this learning experience is embedded within an ongoing series of activities designed to promote children's understanding of science concepts and processes. Teachers submit a videotape and a written commentary.

Examining a Child's Literacy Development -- Teachers are asked to present the ways in which they foster literacy development in their classroom. They are also asked to analyze selected work samples from one child, and discuss the steps they would take to support the featured child's literacy development. Teachers submit a written commentary and the work samples from the selected child.

Documented Accomplishments -- Candidates document their work outside the classroom, with families and in the profession. They submit descriptions and documentation of those activities and accomplishments that illustrate their commitments to families and communities of their students and their contributions to the teaching profession. In addition, candidates compose two brief interpretative summaries of their accomplishments, one for accomplishments with families and the community and the other for accomplishments in the profession.

The following example of an assessment-center exercise (for the certificate for mathematics at the early-adolescence level) can be found at www.nbpts.org/seeking/ov-eam.htm.


The EA/Mathematics assessment center exercises examine content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge specified in the NBPTS standards. Candidates will be asked to demonstrate how they develop student understanding using manipulatives and technology. There are four written exercises: *

Content Knowledge &emdash; Teachers' content knowledge is assessed through a series of prompts across 6 content strands and the mathematical thinking processes including problem solving, mathematical thinking and reasoning, making connections, and flexibility with different representations. Emphasis will be on number sense (patterns) and algebra. Many prompts will cross strands.

Analysis of Student Work &emdash; Using student artifacts from an instructional strand involving number/operation sense and algebra/functions, teachers will be asked a content knowledge question that focuses on this content strand(s) to be followed by pedagogical content knowledge questions that require teachers to demonstrate their ability to identify individual and group misconceptions from student work, design instruction to fix misconceptions, and plan to deepen/extend student understanding of the topic under study.

Using Manipulatives to Develop Understanding &emdash; Teachers will be required to respond to a content knowledge prompt within the geometry/measurement content strand. They will be given a description of a class and an instructional goal and be required to design instruction using manipulative(s) that will develop student understanding. Teachers will provide instructional design that will extend understanding of the same or related topic.

Using Technology to Develop Understanding &emdash; Teachers will be asked to respond to a content knowledge prompt within the content strand of statistics and data analysis. Given a description of a class and an instructional goal, teachers will be asked to design instruction using technology to develop student understanding. Teachers will provide instructional design that will extend understanding of the same or related topic.

Teachers are given 90 minutes to complete each of the exercises.

Four scores are reported, one for each of the exercises.

The following are several implications of the Board's work for teacher education program design:

1. The Board's lists of standards are consistent with, but more detailed than, TSPC's standards. We might consider taking the Board's lists as the foundation of our teacher education programs, and then crosswalk them to TSPC's standards and our program curriculum.

2. The Board's assessments are consistent with a view of teaching-as-performance and the theory of action proposed by Argyris and Schon. The assessments emphasize teachers' ability to engage in professional practice rather than their knowledge of basic theory and research. This is not to say that theory or research is irrelevant to the assessments. Rather, teachers' knowledge of theory and research is assessed to the extent that it informs analysis of and reflection on professional practice.

3. The Board's assessments can be used to guide the design of our instructional delivery system. For example:

  • Teachers should be taught the mechanics of videotaping their instruction, and should be given many opportunities to videotape and analyze their instruction. Research and theory should be taught within this context; in other words, teachers should be shown how theoretical concepts and research-based principles (primarily of the cause-effect type) can be used to analyze and improve instruction.
  • We should move toward a case-study, problems-of-practice approach to university instruction. Teachers should be given many exercises of the types used in the Board's assessment center, so that their learning is authentically situated for the requirements of the assessment center.
  • Teachers need opportunities to learn about, and obtain experience in, professional performance in situations outside the classroom that the Board considers important, i.e., families, the community, collegial work groups, and professional organizations.

It seems to me that our current programs are not well-aligned with the views of teacher performance and teacher evaluation espoused by the Board.