CZI Education
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CZI Education

Why Supporting Educator Development Is Vital

By Dakarai I. Aarons and Julio Chow-Gamboa

There is no ingredient more important for student success than great teachers. Research shows that teachers have the most significant impact on student outcomes out of all school-based factors. The makings of a great teacher go deeper than the passion and care they have for their students, however. Effective preparation and ongoing growth mean providing teachers with professional learning and development experiences that take a holistic view of students, equipping them with tools and strategies to better understand individual student needs, and tailor learning experiences on a student-to-student basis.

Unfortunately, too few teachers have access to these kinds of experiences. This is especially true for teachers of color. Researcher Dr. Travis Bristol has found that teachers of color do not feel like their identities or experiences are captured in most curriculums or standards, which tend to privilege the preparation of white middle-class educators. Such experiences could be helping fuel an already growing teacher shortage across the country, with teachers from diverse backgrounds more likely to leave the profession.

There is a great need and opportunity to better recruit, prepare, and retain a more diverse and well-qualified workforce that can benefit all students. We believe that when teachers succeed, their students do, too. We are committed to investing in the next generation of teachers and those already working in the classroom, ensuring they have the tools and relationships they need to succeed and secure success for all their students.

That’s why we’re announcing a $3 million grant in support of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. For more than two decades, NBPTS has worked to advance the quality of teaching and learning for educators across the United States. The organization maintains high standards for what accomplished teachers should know while providing a national voluntary system for certifying teachers who meet these standards. Through its focus on creating standards for teachers by teachers, the board has become an exemplar in teacher certification. NBPTS offers certification in 25 areas in 16 subjects from pre-K through 12th grade. The board has certified more than 128,000 teachers, with more than 50 percent serving in high-needs schools.

Photos courtesy of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Research shows that National Board-certified teachers are more effective than those who have not been certified through NBPTS, and that they remain in the profession longer. An analysis of teachers in South Carolina, for example, found a 1.9 percent turnover rate for National Board-certified teachers, compared to a 7.7 percent turnover rate statewide in 2016–17. The NBPTS approach has proven so successful that, last year, the state of California appropriated $250,000,000 to create an incentive program around the standards. The program awards grants of up to $25,000 to any teacher who has attained certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and who agrees to teach at a high-priority school for at least five years.

CZI’s $3 million grant will provide the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards with general operating support, allowing the board to deepen its core work, including its ongoing work to revise its standards to more deeply embed the sciences of learning and development and help teachers use equitable practices in service of improving outcomes for all young people. The new standards will ensure teachers are more deeply prepared to meet the needs of today’s learners.

Photo courtesy of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

It’s never been more important that we work to diversify the educator profession and shift policy, helping educators more deeply understand how students learn and develop, and how to use those insights in their classrooms.

CZI’s grant supporting the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards will help make this goal a reality.

Learn more about CZI’s work in education.

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Dakarai Aarons

Dakarai I. Aarons is the director of Education Policy, Partnerships, and Movement at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative