2012-01-20 / Milestones

Local Becomes National Board Certified Teacher

Rockaway resident Belinda Schwach was recently informed that she had passed the rigid standards to become a nationally board certified teacher. Only 1302 teachers across New York State have ever achieved this status.

“NYSUT congratulates this year’s cohort for attaining the gold standard. They have demonstrated advanced teaching knowledge, skills and practices,“ said New York State United Teachers Vice President Maria Neira, speaking about the 165 teachers who were accredited in New York State this year, of which only thirty are New York City teachers.

The NBCT program was started more than two decades ago, as a way of allowing teachers to reach a nationally accredited certification, honored across the country. Developed for teachers, by teachers, National Board certification is offered for 35 subject areas at various grade levels. It is awarded to educators who typically spend 200 to 400 hours having their teaching measured by high standards through a series of assessments. As part of the certification, teachers must pass a rigorous battery of tests in their subject area, including the submission of written portfolios as well as videos showing the teacher performing in the classroom.

These portfolios and videos are then graded and critiqued by peers across the country. The certification also includes a written testing phase to ensure candidates have mastered their subjects well enough to teach them.

These tests are conducted by independent testing centers across the nation.

While several hundred teachers across the country enter the program each year, many are rejected and have to redo their submissions the following year.

Many of this year’s successful candidates were feted at the White House, where Secretary of Education Arne Duncan lauded the program as a model for teachers. New York City awards a pay raise differential to those teachers who achieve national certification in acknowledgement of the accomplishment.

Schwach teaches sixth grade in a public school in Ozone Park and lives in Rockaway Park with her husband and three children.

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