The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards released its annual list of Accomplished School Districts earlier this fall, and school districts across Washington State once again dominated the list, including three districts in the ESD 112 region. Camas, Evergreen, and Ridgefield School Districts were all recognized because at least 20 percent of their teachers are National Board Certified—the most respected professional certification for K-12 teachers in the U.S.

National Board teacher certification is a rigorous and challenging process consisting of four components and is intended to be completed in no more than five years. The certification process is extensive and requires candidates to submit a portfolio that demonstrates their contributions to student instruction and their ability to reflect on and grow their teaching experiences, as well as take an assessment that tests their knowledge of the content area in which they teach.

“Achieving National Board Certification is not easy, and teachers who earn this respected designation demonstrate a commitment to excellence in teaching,” said Nathan McCann, Ridgefield School District Superintendent. “I am proud of our National Board Certified teachers. Their dedication ensures that we are providing the best possible learning experience, opportunities and skills to our students.”

The National Board in a not-for-profit organization that was created and is governed by teachers with the mission of advancing the quality of teaching and learning by setting high and rigorous standards for teachers. It also provides them with a professional network through which they can collaborate with other educators who are teaching at the highest levels.

“Each year we have a cohort of teachers pursuing certification,” said Lisa Greseth, Assistant Superintendent for Camas School District. “The cohort is supported by Nationally Board Certified teacher leaders who facilitate sessions that help teachers learn from each other as they prepare the needed evidence and materials for certification.”

In spite of the rigor of the certification process, or perhaps because of it, teachers who complete all steps of certification find that it is a highly rewarding and worthwhile experience—for teachers and their students.

“I wanted and needed a challenge to discover my strengths and my weaknesses as a teacher as measured against a high set of standards to help students learn and grow,” said Rosemary Fryer, former teacher and current board member for Vancouver Public Schools. She was the first National Board Certified high school teacher in Evergreen School District, one of the districts awarded with Accomplished District status this year. “Because I committed to the process, I changed my practice and elevated and empowered myself and my students to be our best selves and the best learners.”

In total, 81 school districts were recognized nationwide as Accomplished Districts—37 of which are located in Washington State. Teachers in Washington who have attained National Board Certification are awarded with a $5,505 bonus each year, as well as an additional bonus for educators who teach in schools with high rates of poverty. The bonus amount is set by the state Legislature and is funded by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).