The ability of board certification to identify highly qualified teachers suggests that it offers a potential policy lever for increasing teaching quality throughout the system if it were used in ways that have not yet been tried on a large-scale systematic basis, such as by using board certification in hiring, promotion, and assignment decisions; systematically using board-certified teachers as mentors or as teacher leaders; or by targeting incentives to encourage board-certified teachers to work in the more difficult schools. (National Research Council, 2008, p. 229)

Initiated in 2013, the Network to Transform Teaching (NT3) began as a collaborative effort of six states and districts working to address the profession’s call to action so clearly articulated above by the National Research Council. As participants in this learning lab, teams from Albuquerque, NM; Arizona; Kentucky; New York; San Francisco, CA; and Washington brought together diverse stakeholders seeking to develop and strengthen systems to increase the numbers of board-certified teachers and capitalize on their professional expertise. In each location, representatives from labor, management, and frontline practitioners are engaged every step of the way, taking a coalition-based approach across often-fragmented systems of schooling.

Early results demonstrate that the foundation for change is being laid, with critical gains in the infrastructure required to make accomplished teaching the norm. The recruitment of Board Certification candidates is growing steadily across the six sites, from a 24 percent share of all candidates the previous year to 36 percent this year. Sixty percent of those candidates are in Title I schools, and nearly 40 percent are pursuing certification in STEM-related subject areas. NT3 is shifting the professional culture and political climate of preK-12 education.

The network’s core focus on recruitment and support for board certification is a great start toward the overall goal of making accomplished teaching the norm.  However, to realize the breakthrough improvement we seek, board certification must become integrated into the fabric of schooling.  As well, the trajectory from a pre-service teacher to an accomplished teacher and beyond must be strengthened. At present, there is limited codified knowledge with a limited evidence base about how to best accomplish this work in districts and schools. Therefore, to consolidate and deepen the network’s theory for how to strengthen district systems to reach our shared goal, National Board led a participatory planning period.

In early 2016, the network will expand to add five additional partners, as well as a focus on support for early career teachers.  The full set of NT3 partners is pictured below.  

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The Network to Transform Teaching is funded by a U.S. Department of Education Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant and is implemented with support from the American Institutes for Research and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.