LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – More than 200 teachers across Kentucky – including 52 in Jefferson County Public Schools – obtained the highest possible certification in the teaching profession in 2014, according to new data being released Wednesday by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Kentucky now has 3,182 board certified teachers, ranking 9th nationally. Across the United States, 4,155 teachers obtained national Board Certification during the 2013-14 year, bringing the total number to 110,428.

“This is this quite an honor for our teachers and is something that requires a lot of work on their behalf,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “It improves their instruction and teaching abilities and elevates them professionally. And in the end, it benefits the children they teach.”

Indiana, which has 168 certified teachers, ranks 43rd nationally.

“National Board Certification is an assurance that teachers have met the profession's highest standards and have the knowledge and skills necessary to advance student learning,” said Ronald Thorpe, president and CEO of the National Board.  “Still, we have a long way to go to make board certification the norm and the expectation in the profession.”

There are 380 nationally board certified teachers in JCPS, the most of any district in the state and more than the entire total of nationally certified teachers in 15 states. JCPS also boasts a spot in the top ten ranking of districts of teachers who reached the milestone this year.

Thirteen teachers in Oldham County and one teacher in Bullitt County also obtained National Board Certification in 2014.

Westport Middle School's Paige Houston and Sharon Klump are among the 52 teachers in JCPS to obtain their certification this year. They say the process was one of the hardest things they have done in their professional careers.

“It was very intense – we had to put together four different portfolio pieces that required us to analyze our teaching and submit video showing how our students are meeting the standards,” said Klump, who team teaches with Houston in Westport's Montessori magnet program.

Houston said it has made them both better teachers.

“It's made us more reflective,” she said. “It helps ensure that everything we do in the classroom is meaningful and purposeful and that it's productive with our students.”

A rigorous journey

The road to obtaining National Board Certification is lengthy and difficult. And up until this year, it also cost about $2,600 to apply – a fee some say prevented many teachers from going through the process.

However, the process for becoming nationally board certified will change in 2015 – teachers will no longer be able to complete the process in a year and the cost will decrease to $1,900, said Aparna Kumar, a spokeswoman for the National Board.

The organization is shifting from a paper-based system to digital—and candidates will have the option to pay as they go, she said.

“The certification process is undergoing a revision,” she said. “Over the next three years, teachers won't be able to complete it in a year because we are making changes to reduce the barriers. We are trying to make the whole process more effective, affordable and efficient for teachers.”

The success rate for certification varies from year to year - but about half of those who seek certification in the first year receive it. Some can take up to three years to certify, Kumar said.

The federal government used to provide a subsidy to teachers to help cover the application cost, but that money is no longer available, Kumar said.

Kentucky provides about nearly $3 million annually in reimbursements to districts for teachers who go through the certification process, Holliday said.

Teachers used to be eligible to receive up to 75 percent of their out-of-pocket expenses from Kentucky's Education Professional Standards Board through the Teachers' National Certification Incentive Trust Fund, but that fund has been suspended due to budget cuts.

Private grants, like
to five schools in Jefferson County, help offset some of the cost for teachers at Atkinson, Cochran and Portland elementary schools, Westport Middle and The Academy @ Shawnee.

JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens said the district's nationally board certified teachers are helping the district further its mission to “provide instruction that inspires so that all students graduate prepared.”

“This is a great accomplishment that should be celebrated by the community because this benefits our community,” Hargens said.

Going through National Board Certification can involve between 300 to 400 hours of work and one to three years of commitment, officials say.

Teachers have to submit a detailed portfolio that includes examples of student work, an outline of what teachers have done outside of the classroom to improve student achievement and video recordings that show how they teach and interact with students.

They must then take a rigorous exam to demonstrate they have mastered the content of their chosen certification area.

Increasing the number of NBCTs

Thorpe notes that only a small fraction of America's teachers are nationally board certified. Of the country's 3 million teachers, 110,428 have obtained National Board Certification, the new figures show.

“We owe it to our students and our future to make them a majority—and to build the coherent trajectory that supports every teacher to reach accomplished practice,” Thorpe said.

Wednesday's results come two months after a nationwide poll by PDK International and Gallup that showed that more than 80 percent of Americans agree that teachers should achieve National Board Certification, beyond being licensed to practice.

In addition, 70 percent of respondents agreed that “new teachers should spend at least a year practicing under the guidance of a certified teacher before assuming responsibility for their own classrooms."

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-855-2045 or @tkonz on Twitter.

These are the teachers in JCPS who obtained National Board Certification in 2014:

Elyse Allemang - Hesuer Hearing and Language Academy

Stacy Beltz - Sanders Elementary

Carolina Bercenio - Eastern High

Sarah Blatz - Carter Elementary

Christina Brown - Tully Elementary

Jessica Bruederle - Tully Elementary

Megan Bryant - Greathouse-Shryock Elementary 

Martha Buechlein - Hite Elementary 

Amy Crawford - Young Elementary 

Kimberly Curry - Indian Trail Elementary 

Lindsey Dobson - Ballard High 

Brittany Durham - Noe Middle 

Sandra Foley - Butler High 

Rose Glasser - ESL Newcomer Academy 

Heather Graham - Hite Elementary 

Tua Gravatte - Highland Middle 

Tracie Graves - Luhr Elementary 

Linda Haggard - Price Elementary 

Brittany Henry - Louisville Male High 

Susan Hiland - Stopher Elementary 

TJ Hofmann - Tully Elementary 

George Hornstein - Butler High 

Paige Houston - Westport Middle 

Marian Hubbard - Fern Creek High 

Crystal Hubler - Carter Elementary 

Jason Hubler - Carter Elementary 

Caitlin Jennings - Noe Middle 

Haripriy Kanuparthy - Crosby Middle 

Heidi Keairns - Field Elementary 

Laura Kelly - Hawthorne Elementary 

Sharon Klump - Westport Middle 

Tracy Madryga - Kenwood Elementary 

Ngoc Tran Nakata - Rutherford Elementary 

Erin Nicheols - Wheatley Elementary 

Dawn Nichols - Churchill Park School 

Jordan Paskitti - Louisville Male High 

Jessica Payton - Butler High 

Eric Purvis - duPont Manual High 

Leah Radatz - Churchill Park School 

Jennifer Reese - Price Elementary 

Julie Rightley - Johnsontown Road Elementary 

Molly Schurfranz - Kenwood Elementary 

Sallie Smith - Stonestreet Elementary 

Vicki Steele - Lowe Elementary 

Rebecca Taylor - Kennedy Metro Middle 

Jessica Thomas - Atkinson Elementary 

Elizabeth Ward - Tully Elementary 

Denise Webb - PRP High 

Ian Welch - Western High

Samantha Whitaker - Noe Middle 

Jason White - PRP High 

Kathryn Wigger - Tully Elementary

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