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National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

Evaluation Studies of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

An Evaluation of National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Certification

Contractor: The National Research Council

Background/Research Questions

In 2003 Congress mandated that the Institute of Education Sciences contract with the National Research Council to evaluate the impact of Board certification, including an assessment of whether the NBPTS certification model is a cost effective method of improving teacher quality and the extent to which certification makes a difference in student academic achievement.

The following are the research questions:

  • What are the impacts on teachers who obtain Board certification, those who attempt to become certified but are not successful, and those who do not apply for Board certification?
  • To what extent does Board certification make a difference in the academic achievement of students?
  • To what extent is Board certification a cost-effective method of improving teacher quality?


An independent committee of experts selected by the National Research Council developed a framework for evaluating programs that award advanced-level teacher certification and applied that framework in an evaluation of the NBPTS. The committee relied on a review of existing research to address the study questions.

Cost/Duration: $1,500,000 over 5 years (September 2004–September 2007)

Current Status

Completed. The report was released in 2008 (see


Based on a review of the research literature available at the time of this study, as well as analyses commissioned by the NRC committee, the committee concluded that:

  • Insufficient evidence exists to draw conclusions regarding the impact of certification on teacher outcomes such as classroom practices and mobility.
  • Evidence suggests that students taught by Board-certified teachers have higher achievement test gains than those taught by teachers who applied for certification but were not successful. Evidence regarding whether the certification process improves teachers' classroom effectiveness is inconclusive, however.
  • It is not possible at this time to conduct a cost-effectiveness evaluation of Board certification. This is due to the scarcity of information on the benefits of Board certification and both the costs and benefits of alternative mechanisms for improving teacher quality, such as obtaining a Masters degree.