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Washington tops U.S. in new certified teachers

More than 1,400 Washington teachers received certification last year from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, securing the state as No. 1 in the nation for certified teacher growth and putting it in stark contrast with neighbors Idaho and Oregon, according to new data released by the board.

The addition of 1,434 national board certified teachers puts Washington’s total number of NBCTs at 10,135, third in the country, according to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, OSPI Communications Director Nathan Olson said.

According to data from the board’s website, just two Palouse-region teachers obtained certification from the board in 2017. Both come from the Pullman School District.

Holly Steele, a third grade teacher at Franklin Elementary School, and Isabel Haller-Gryc, who teaches English as a second language throughout the district, both received certification through the board on Dec. 16 of last year.

It took the local teachers about three years to complete their training, Haller-Gryc told the Daily News, saying the board had just recently changed the certification process to span over several years, rather than one. Together with Steele, Haller-Gryc said the two were sort of guinea pigs, learning together how the new process would work as they began their certification in 2014.

Haller-Gryc said she and Steele were required to complete four components, including taking a test; videotaping two of their lessons and reflecting on the video; creating a year-long unit of study that focused on students with certain needs; and working on teacher-to-teacher collaboration.

“It was almost like getting another master’s,” Haller-Gryc said with a laugh.

Formed in 1987, the NBPTS is an independent, nonprofit organization that seeks to advance the quality of teaching and learning by maintaining certain standards for its teachers.

In 2007, the Washington State Legislature began awarding a $5,000 annual stipend to its teachers who obtained the certification. Teachers working in “challenging schools” – schools with a certain percentage of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches – receive an additional bonus from the state. In neighboring Idaho, teachers who acquire the national certification receive a $2,000 annual stipend for five years.

Idaho’s total NBCT numbers are in stark contrast to Washington, a state which outshines a majority of the rest of the country’s totals by several thousand certified teachers.

Idaho, which has about a fourth as many teachers as Washington, counted 386 NBCTs in 2017 and added none, placing 37th in the nation overall and tying with North Dakota at the bottom for its increase in NBCTs in 2017. Neighboring Oregon counted even less, 345, but having added 18 in the past year.

Moscow School District Superintendent Greg Bailey said Idaho’s relatively low numbers likely have to do with the state’s own teacher career ladder, implemented in 2015, which economically awards Idaho educators for the time they have spent with a school district, as well as for the education, certificates and professional endorsements they acquire.

“That’s pretty much taken the place of the national board in the state of Idaho,” Bailey said.

In total, the NBPTS saw 5,470 teachers become certified nationwide. Washington led that growth, alongside Kentucky, Wisconsin, Nevada, Hawaii, New Mexico and Colorado, all of which increased their total NBCTs by more than 10 percent.

 

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