SFUSD teachers go extra mile to earn national certification 

At Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, we will be celebrating the San Francisco Unified School District’s newest National Board for Professional Teaching Standards-certified teachers.

This year, we are congratulating 33 newly-certified teachers — the most ever to receive this prestigious certification in a single year in our district.

We now have 239 National Board-certified teachers working in the SFUSD and we are growing this number at a faster rate than the national average. We also have a greater percentage than any other California district.

It is not an accident that the SFUSD has so many board-certified teachers. Our district invests in teachers who pursue certification because it’s a win-win — teachers grow as professionals and students benefit.

Board-certified professionals

National Board certification is exactly what it sounds like: A nationwide advanced teaching credential that goes above and beyond the state certification required for teachers.

Like board-certified doctors and accountants, those who get certification have met rigorous standards through intense study, expert evaluation, self-assessment and peer review.

Teachers who seek certification build a portfolio that includes student work samples, assignments, videos of their teaching and a thorough analysis of their work. On top of that, they must demonstrate an ability to meet diverse student needs and show how they collaborate with a learning community outside of their classroom.

But that’s not all. National Board certification also requires teachers to demonstrate evidence of several characteristics, including that they recognize students as individuals and adjust their teaching methods accordingly, that they treat students equitably, that they master their subject matter, and that they think systematically about their teaching and learn from experience.

Honing their craft

It’s not just about getting another certificate. This is a voluntary certification. Teachers spend countless hours of their own time to complete this process.

Teachers who have gone through it say it really does improve their teaching. They tell me how they analyzed their work more closely than ever before. They say that seeing a videotape of themselves conducting a class is eye-opening.

And even more important, they tell me that the process (which can take up to three years to complete) energized them to develop their teaching skills long after getting the certificate.

For more information on the National Board certification program, go to www.nbpts.org.

Richard A. Carranza is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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