Berkeley School of Education will support 75 Oakland Unified School District teachers in pursuing National Board certification — considered the gold standard for teacher certification — over three years in a program designed to boost teaching excellence and student learning in high-priority Oakland schools. The project is funded with a $1.62 million grant from an anonymous philanthropic partner.
More than 75 Oakland teachers, many of whom are people of color, have already expressed interest in the 25 spots available in the first year.
“Teachers continue to ask for high quality sustained professional learning opportunities. This project will support our teachers in earning the nation’s highest standard of certification in service of educating our historically resilient children: this is a form of repair,” said Associate Professor Travis J. Bristol, the faculty director of the effort. Bristol developed the project in collaboration with the BSE-based 21st Century California School Leadership Academy and the Nevada National Board Professional Learning Network.
“Here in OUSD, we provide outstanding professional development for our teachers, but the training it takes to receive National Board certification is next level,” said OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. “Our teachers who are already National Board certified bring an extra dimension to the learning that takes place in their classrooms. In fact, we know the impact we see here is even more pronounced among our students of color. We deeply appreciate the partnership with UC Berkeley’s School of Education, and know the additional learning for our teachers will translate directly into improved outcomes for our students.”
California teachers who attain this “gold standard” and commit to teaching in high-priority schools receive a $5,000 incentive from the state and another $1,000 from Oakland Unified.
The funding will create a National Board Resource Support Center at BSE to support teachers throughout the process. The project will recruit current Board certified teachers to serve as coaches to teachers with an interest in the certification and will also offer communities of practice for Oakland teachers who want to learn from each other while they engage in the rigorous process of Board certification. A research component, directed by Bristol, will examine how Board certification changes how teachers adapt their teaching and curriculum to support equity and student learning.
"We are absolutely interested in diversifying the teachers who receive Board certification,” said Bristol, explaining that many of the National Board Certified teachers are concentrated in suburban and wealthier school districts. “And we know that teachers who are teaching in our state’s high-priority schools in urban and rural communities tend to be teachers of color.”
In addition to increasing participation in the Board Certification process, which is handled by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the project also seeks to improve conditions for teachers to support retention in Oakland schools.