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WHS Teacher Achieves National Board Certification

Jan. 13, 2014. The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards has announced that Watauga High School Biology teacher Katherine Chesnutt has achieved National Board Certification, the highest professional credential available in the teaching profession. 

Katherine Chesnutt
Katherine Chesnutt

Chesnutt, a Watauga County native and graduate of NC State University, is the only newly Board certified teacher in the Watauga County Schools for 2013-14 but eleven other teachers  renewed their status as National Board Certified teachers.  The teachers achieving renewed certification include Tom Brown, Alice Greer, Maria Jamell, James McKay, Jonathan Miller, Sandra Ruppert, Becky Steele, Susan Suddreth, Kelly Walker, Joan Ward, Mary Kent Whitaker, and Marcia Winkler. Board Certification is good for ten years and must be renewed at the end of that period.

“We congratulate these teachers on achieving and renewing National Board Certification,” said Superintendent Dr. David Fonseca.  “Attaining National Board Certification is a very challenging process.  That is especially true at this time, when teachers must deal with a revamped curriculum, additional testing requirements, and other increased demands on their time.  We are extremely proud of our personnel who meet this challenge and demonstrate their professional excellence.”

A total of 95 Watauga County Schools teachers and administrators currently possess National Board Certification, representing approximately 23% of the teachers, counselors, media specialists, and administrators in the school system.  While current figures on the proportion of Board Certified personnel in each school district are not available, WCS ranked second in the state in the percentage of Board Certified teachers and administrators for 2011-12.  

A total of 330 teachers in North Carolina achieved certification this year and North Carolina leads all states in the number of Board Certified teachers by a wide margin.  The state has a total of 20,122 Board Certified personnel, representing nearly 19% of all Board Certified teachers in the country.

Achieving National Board Certification is a voluntary process in which teachers invest hundreds of hours above and beyond their normal workload to complete the required assessments and documents.  The process includes submission of teaching portfolios, student work samples, videotapes, and written materials that are used to assess teachers’ knowledge of their subject matter and their teaching skills. 

At the state level, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction supports candidates with up to three days of paid release time to prepare for Board Certification and awards a 12% raise good for ten years to those who achieve National Board Certification.  The state also used to pay the $2,500 assessment fee for Board Certification candidates but that funding was cut from the state budget three years ago.  Teachers are now eligible for a low interest loan to pay the assessment fee.  The number of teachers achieving Board Certified status in North Carolina has fallen from 2,277 three years ago to 330 in 2013, a decline of 85%.

Research has shown that achieving National Board Certification is a strong indication of high quality instruction and increased student achievement.  According to a study by the University of Washington and the Urban Institute, students taught by National Board Certified teachers perform measurably better on end-of-course tests and the improvement is especially significant (up to 15%) for younger and lower income students.  Another study at UNC-Greensboro found that Board Certified teachers outperform other teachers on 11 of 13 key measures of teaching expertise.  A comprehensive study by the National Research Council found that students taught by Board Certified teachers show higher gains on achievement tests than students taught by other teachers.

Additional information about National Board Certification is available online at www.nbpts.org