Newswise — Research conducted by professors at Appalachian State University shows that students taught by National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) achieve deeper learning than students taught by non-board certified teachers. The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Education and other private funders. External reviews of the initial group of competitive grant proposals and subsequent funding recommendations were made by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis.

The research was conducted by Tracy W. Smith, an assistant professor in Appalachian's Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Susan A. Colby, an assistant professor and elementary education program coordinator at Appalachian. They were assisted by Belita Gordon from the University of Georgia, and Jianjun Wang, a professor of educational research at California State University-Bakersfield.

The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of NBCTs on student achievement (depth of student learning), compared to teachers who attempted, but did not receive National Board Certification. Approximately half of the 64 teachers in the sample had achieved National Board Certification. Researchers examined teaching practices as well as samples of students' classroom work and writing assignments. Results indicated that there was a statistically significant difference between NBCTs and their non-certified counterparts in their efforts to foster deeper student learning. In addition, all measures of student writing examined revealed that students of NBCTs had a statistically significantly deeper understanding of writing than students on non-NBCTs.

This study and others focusing on the process of teaching and learning are important, Smith said. "If we do not study how students learn and demonstrate their learning, we can never understand how to help them learn better," she said.

The findings are published in the study, "Examining the Relationship between Depth of Student Learning and Teacher National Board Certification Status" available at Manuscrip.pdf.

"The methods and findings from this investigation have important implications for policy, research and practice related to teacher quality and student learning," Smith said. "Without question, the findings from this study contribute to the evidence that NBCTs have a positive impact on student learning. Perhaps one of the greatest values of this study is that it provides a promising model for accomplishing a critical aim of assessment: improving student understanding and performance."

National Board Certification is the highest credential in the teaching profession. A voluntary process established by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification is achieved through a rigorous performance-based assessment that takes between one and three years to complete and measures what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do. There are more than 40,200 National Board Certified Teachers nationwide, and this fall, nearly 20,000 more teachers will learn if they achieved certification.