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IES Grant

Title: National Board Certification Efficacy Study
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Manzeske, David Awardee: American Institutes for Research (AIR)
Program: Effective Instruction      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (08/01/2017–07/31/2021) Award Amount: $2,989,187
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A170131

Co-Principal Investigators: Spyridon Konstantopoulos (Michigan State University) and Shazia Miller (NORC at the University of Chicago)

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the impact on student outcomes of being taught by a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) versus being taught by a teacher not certified by this system. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (National Board) has certified more than 112,000 teachers since 1987 through a standards-based, comprehensive assessment of teacher pedagogical and content expertise. The National Board launched the third version of its certification system in 2014 and more than 30,000 applicants have initiated the redesigned certification process. However, no studies to date have determined whether teachers certified by the new National Board certification system outperform noncertified teachers.

Project Activities: This study's core activity is a rigorous randomized control trial that tests the efficacy of being taught by a NBCT on student outcomes. Researchers will first identify schools that will have NBCTs that are assigned to teach self-contained classroom during the 2018–2019 school year. Researchers will then identify matched pairs of eligible NBCTs and noncertified teachers that teach the same grade within the same school. Then researchers will randomly assign 4th–6th grade students to classrooms taught by either a NBCT (treatment condition) or the paired noncertified teacher (control condition). Researchers will collect data on the experiences of students in both the treatment and control classrooms, as well as student outcomes. Finally, researchers will conduct a series of analyses to determine the effect of being taught by a NBCT on exposure to quality instruction, opportunities to learn, learning skills, and student achievement.

Products: Researchers will disseminate the results of this study to researchers in a technical report and in peer-reviewed journal articles. The research team will also disseminate results to practitioners and policymakers at conferences and online through the American Institute for Research e-newsletter, website, and social media accounts.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The researchers will recruit teachers and students from districts with an established relationship with the National Board and with a relatively large number of teachers who have begun the redesigned certification process. Participating districts include Montgomery County Public Schools and Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Both Maryland districts are located in larger suburban settings and serve, on average, a diverse student population that is 21 percent African American and 22 percent Hispanic.  About a third of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and 10 percent are English language learners. These two districts served 51,435 students in Grades 4–6 during the 2013–14 school year, and at least 65 are pursuing a certification type most relevant to the grade levels included in this study.

Sample: The teacher sample includes pairs of National Board certified and non-certified teachers from participating districts. The student sample includes 4th–6th grade students assigned to study-eligible classrooms at the start of the 2018–19 school year within the participating schools. Study eligible classrooms are defined as classrooms led by one NBCT or non-certified teachers who are part of the study.

Intervention: National Board certification is the only national teaching credential in the United States. This certification is based on the National Board's five core propositions of teacher characteristics: (1) teachers are committed to students and their learning, (2) teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students, (3) teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning, (4) teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience, and (5) teachers are members of learning communities. National Board certification is also based on demonstrating both pedagogical and content expertise against a set of standards. To become a NBCT, a teacher with at least three years of teaching experience must demonstrate advanced knowledge and practices on the following component measures aligned to the core propositions: an assessment of content knowledge, written reflection on student work samples, video and written self-analysis of teaching practice, and documented accomplishments as a teaching professional.

Research Design and Methods: Researchers will use a blocked randomized design to evaluate the efficacy of being taught by an NBCT on student outcomes. Random assignment will take place within blocks defined by school and grade (e.g., students in Grade 5 in school A). Within the same school and grade level, researchers will randomly assign students to one of two classroom rosters at the start of the school year, and then randomly assign an NBCT to one of the rosters and a noncertified teacher to the other roster.

Control Condition: The control condition is defined as students assigned to a self-contained classroom taught by a teacher who is not a NBCT prior to the start of the 2018–19 school year.

Key Measures: Researchers will use National Board applicant data to describe the characteristics of certified teachers in the study. To measure teacher instructional practices, researchers will conduct two video-based classroom observations per teacher, which will be then be coded using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System–Upper Elementary version. To measure students' exposure to learning opportunities and student learning skills, researchers will administer a student survey to all participating students. Students' 2018–19 state assessment mathematics and reading/ELA scores will be used as measures of student academic achievement.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will conduct service contrast analyses to estimate differences between treatment and control students' exposure to quality instruction and opportunities to learn. Researchers will also conduct impact analyses to estimate intent-to-treat effects of being assigned to a classroom led by an NBCT on learning skills and mathematics and reading/ELA achievement. Researchers will also conduct mediator, moderator, and complier analyses.